Semmerling & Schaefer Mask Artists Studios

phone: (773) 697-5012

Semmerling and Schaefer Mask Studios Presents:

Mask Artists:
The Work of Master Mask Makers

Hanging September 19 through November 1st, 2003
L & S Gallery
912 1/2 Sherman Ave., Evanston, IL 60202
Open Tues, Fri, Sat, Sun noon to 6 p.m. Closed on even dated Sundays

Photo by Philip Novotny of of Tim Beckwith Masks
Tools of transformation, masks hang ready as temporal and permanent witnesses to experienced times and mysterious timelessness. Via action masks invigorate great soul and spirit in a culture. Masks facilitate the making of connections between quality entities by revealing, not hiding, spirit freed from identity. Masks and textiles are the granddaddies of all art forms. In these times we need to take masks and mask practices much more seriously.

Curator, Jeff Semmerling has assembled this exhibition of representative master work of full time mask practitioners from around the world. Most are wearable and for sale.

The artists include...

Peter Schumann:

Founder of Bread and Puppet Theater in Glover, Vermont

Bread and Puppet Theater was founded in 1962 by Peter Schumann, a German-born sculptor. Inspired by ancient folk traditions as well as classical artists like Goya, Massacio and Michelangelo, Bread and Puppet Theater quickly began to illustrate everything from children's fairy tales to the daily news. As the puppets grew bigger, often approaching -- and even exceeding -- human scale, the theater pieces began to grow more complex, incorporating elements of sculpture, music and dance.

By the mid-1960s, the company had become involved with a variety of contemporary social issues and had begun to stage ambitious public events like rent strikes, voter registration parades and, during the Vietnam War, block-long street demonstrations.

In the early 1970s, Bread and Puppet Theater relocated to their current facilities on an old farm in Glover, Vt. A 100-year-old hay barn was transformed into a non-profit museum housing hundreds of puppets of all sizes and other parts of the farm are used for such things as stage- and puppet-building, workshops, printing, sewing and rehearsals.

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Robert Faust:

Faustwork Mask Theater. Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Robert Faust, native New Orleanian, is the founder and artistic director of Faustwork Mask Theater. Mr. Faust designs and creates all the masks used in Faustwork shows, which include The Mask Messenger, Faustwork In Concert, Voice of the Wood, and Carnival Knowledge.

Mr. Faust has also performed and choreographed with Pilobolus Dance Theater, Martha Clarke, Mangrove, Jules Feiffer, and the Paul Winter Consort. His sculptures and masks are sometimes seen in galleries, and have been commissioned by the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, Pilobolus, Momix, Harvard University, The Paul Winter Consort, and David Kirk/ Callaway Editions, Inc.

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Lauren Raine:

Raine Walker Studios, Tucson, Arizona

Lauren Raine holds a BFA from the University of California at Berkeley, and an MFA from the University of Arizona. She has also attended Otis Art Institute and the New England Institute for Art Therapy.

She has been a painter, performance artist, poet, and mask maker for 25 years, with work in private and public collections. She is especially interested in art that facilitates self-discovery, and the experience of community. Currently, she creates masks for performance and for exhibition. In her workshops she assists others to explore the Mythic Realms within all of us, to celebrate Rites of Passage, and touch the Living Earth through Art.

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Tim Beckwith:

Musician/ Mask Maker

Tim Beckwith is a multi-talented artist who began his pursuit of the arts at an early age. While growing up in rural southern California, he taught himself to play hand drums, recorders, and bamboo flutes. Drawing, drumming, sculpting, mask making and painting were frequent activities throughout his childhood. By the time he entered high school in 1960 Tim was deeply involved in all these activities. In 1968 he began formal studies, majoring in sculpture at California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland California. He graduated in1972 receiving a BFA with High Distinction.

After traveling in Mexico Tim relocated to the Central Coast. In 1978 he began performing on flute and drums with Bentel Baraka, a very spirited Middle Eastern dance and music ensemble. From 1980 to 1992 he performed all original music on drums, flute, vocals and recorder in the Prima Bwana band.

In 1984 Tim's art work focused primarily on abstract painting which he began to exhibit in 1985. The paintings were shown in San Diego, Santa Monica, long Beach, San Francisco, Reno, Los Olivos, and in various communities along the Central Coast until 1991. His attention then turned toward sculpture and mask making. This work has been exhibited widely on the Central Coast. In 1994 his masks were used in the Columbia Sony motion picture Higher Learning.

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Lindsay Rust:

Rhythm Arts Foundation / Dancing Drum, Santa Barbara, CA.

Lindsay Rust is an artist whose work is inspired by three primary ideas: beauty, human history, and dreams. She is a mask maker and theatrical designer. She also illustrates, paints murals, writes, performs, and teaches. For the past several years, however, masks have captivated most of her imagination, time, and energy. Her mask work has drawn the attention of many admirers. Most significantly, the Discovery Channel featured Rust's masks in a 15-minute segment on the Lynette Jennings Design series. Lynette interviewed Rust in her Mission Canyon tree-house studio while Rust demonstrated her unique approach to mask making.

After college, Rust signed up with the Peace Corps. She was sent to Niger, West Africa - the one country on the continent revered for its exquisite silversmithing tradition. After serving as a community development agent for 1 1/2 years in a Songhai-Djerma village on the banks of the Niger River she moved to the capital city, Niamey. She became friends with a master silversmith named Bˇbˇ and began an apprenticeship with him at the National Museum Artisan Workshop. In the five months she spent there, she learned to make jewelry and metal sculptures as they have been made in this region of Africa for hundreds of years, using traditional materials, local metals, and handmade tools. While in Niamey, Rust also studied with a Guinean mask maker who taught her the basics of wood sculpting in ebony and mahogany. After the Peace Corps, Rust continued her African travels, visiting Benin, Togo, Ghana, Guinea, and Burkina Faso.

Rust's Solstice masks attracted the attention of Boxtales Theatre Company - a local storytelling troupe based out of the Lobero Theatre. She has also worked with the Santa Barbara Baroque Dance Company, freelance photographers, and numerous small theatre troupes. Most recently, Rust has been designing masks for Dancing Drum Productions, a music/theatre troupe that performs original stories based around African drumming. She also performs with Dancing Drum.

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Sonja Schaefer and Jeff Semmerling:

Semmerling and Schaefer Mask Studios

Since 1986, Jeff and Sonja have marketed their unique mask creations together. Their partnership joins Sonja Schaefer’s design and fashion background with the theatrical and material training of Jeff Semmerling. They work in leather, feathers, neoprene, paiper, cardboard and other quality materials. They have made masks for The Goodman Theatre, Disney MGM Studios Theme Park, NBC Productions, Il Circo, magicians, musicians, the Joel Hall Dancers and many others. Jeff has traveled world wide to learn about masks and to practice masking of and in other cultures. His masks are used by the clown doctors of Patch Adams M.D. in their world wide mission to spread joy. He also teaches masks and puppetry to juveniles and adults and is founding the Chicagoland Mask Makers Guild.

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