During the pandemic, the face mask has become more than personal protective equipment. It has come to symbolize self-expression and resilience; political stance; rhetoric about masculinity, contagion and nativism; questions surrounding science and truth; and other issues that divide us as a society. Laura Addison explores the Museum of International Folk Art exhibit #mask, which shows how artists around the world have responded to COVID-19, and the myriad ways in which the mask has become a metaphor for something much much larger than ourselves . 

Laura Addison is the curator of North American and European collections at the Museum of International Folk Art. Her current and recent projects include tramp art, Alaska Native parkas, “outsider”/self-taught art, and the cross-pollination of traditional and folk arts with contemporary art and design, including the work of Alexander Girard. She holds a BA from Cornell University and an MA from UNM.