Tania Clute Jacobs
My cousin saw the open call for beadwork for Breathe back in the beginning of April. I was working on looming several replica wampum belts and started thinking about some concepts. I drew up my initial design, and it took me a while before I actually started the project. I kept putting it off and wasn’t sure I was going to make the mask. I knew I wanted to create something that would reflect me as an artist. That I wanted it to be a fully beaded face mask, because I love to bead. It’s a passion. But I couldn’t get into this particular project. Then we found out that my husband’s family who live in another community had COVID-19. Thinking about them and my own family here, I just started to work on the mask. A lot of emotions went into the creation of this mask. It was a challenge to make and I almost gave up a few times, because it wasn’t coming out quite right. Finally, I knew exactly what I wanted and I went into a happy place with focus. In total it took me about two-weeks to complete. After I was done, my husband helped me to pick my fingers up off the floor. I made a structured mask out of Pellon and card stock to bead with vinyl backing, representing how precious the N95 masks have become during the pandemic. Running along the bottom of the mask are strawberry plants, which is a good medicine in our culture stemming from our creation story. There are three flowers on the mask representing my children and hope that our medicines will keep them protected, just as a mask helps to protect the healthcare workers on the front line.