Surrey Art Gallery Association’s online gift shop is the place to buy “The Summons,” a poetry- and art-covered face mask that “honours the cycles of change and transformation that people are individually and collectively going through.”
The mask was co-created by Surrey-based artist Debbie Westergaard Tuepah and poet Renée Sarojini Saklikar, who was Surrey’s first Poet Laureate from 2015 to 2018.
Last fall, they were commissioned by Surrey Art Gallery to “define this lived moment that brought shared insights and discovery,” according to a news release from the gallery.
The result is a non-medical, three-layered face mask with adjustable nose pieces and ear straps, with an image of a magnolia flower and a line of poetry: “Wash your hands, use your sleeve, trust us now, you’ll never have to grieve.”
— Tom Zillich (@TomZillich) March 4, 2021
Tuepah says she was drawn to the magnolia because of its history as an ancient flowering plant.
“I’m fascinated by things have been here a while and survived,” she says. “For me, the magnolia operates as a signifier of hope, resilience, and beauty in the midst of chaos. It supports the belief that there will be an end, or at least control over, this COVID event and that we will survive the experience.”
Work on the mask touched close to home for both artist and poet.
“It was very healing for me to do this,” said Saklikar, who is married to B.C. health minister Adrian Dix.
The masks are sold for $15 each on sagabc.com, with proceeds to Surrey Art Gallery Association.