Sunday, October 22, 2017


For the past three or four years I've participated in the annual Maine Brain Injury Conference as a speaker and/or panelist, so it was nice this year to simply be an active audience member. I contributed plenty to the Return to Work panel discussion and had a chance to enter the realm of the visual arts realm through the Unmasking Brain Injury Project , in a workshop led by members of my own Brain Injury Voices (raffle tickets still available for the November calendar raffle).

I haven't decided whether to submit my mask to the Unmasking project or even frame it, but I figured this was as good a time and place to put my mask on display and describe its meaning (the final step in the mask making process). The story my mask (below) tells is fairly straight forward:

  • I removed a portion of the right temple to -- very literally -- represent my craniotomy and stroke, showing the lost section of my skull and brain. I made a point of doing all the cutting without assistance, one handed, often holding the mask between my knees.
  • I reapplied that extracted piece of my head and decorated it, representing both the stickers the boys used to decorate my craniotomy helmet as well as how much my injury has supplemented and enhanced my strategic capabilities and my capacity for empathy.
  • I covered the inside of the mask's eyes with a thin layer of cloth to represent both seeing life through a different lens, as well as a through a constant veil of fog.
  • I also poked holes in the nostrils so I can breathe (who makes a mask without air holes!?).
  • I left the rest of the mask undecorated, partially to avoid making a mess of colors or indecipherable images but mostly because we are all blank canvases and my story is not yet complete.