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BREAK OUT! Series 1: Masking

LA Art Documents is exploring the pandemic’s impact on the way artists operate and engage with their practice in a new series of artist profiles we’re aptly calling BREAK OUT! Here’s a sampling of responses for Series 1 – Masking, featuring works by: Jose Cabrera, Gliser Fuentes, Ron Katagiri, Sue Kneisley, Caron G Rand, (and more ongoing)

Smile III, 2020 pen & pencil on paper

I was working on a body of art about Hiroshima & Nagasaki when the Covid-19 pandemic broke out. Due to the somber nature of my subject matter and materials I had to be in my studio & give it my full emotional attention and I needed my personal environment to be calm in order to focus. When the pandemic expanded, I was blown away. Fear & panic was promoted via the first scenes of Chinese in hazmat suits making one believe you will die if you come in contact with it. I found myself in empty grocery stores & being told they had no idea when they would be restocked as they no longer had any control over it. TP became they new trendiest, hottest item like the Cabbage Patch kids pandemonium I was in a hunt for the coveted 2-ply. I realized that no longer would I be able to concentrate on the A-bombs I had to now give my full focus as to what was happening globally and why? My work was all about research at first as I believed it was more nefarious and not just a wet market virus jumping out of nowhere….”follow the money” became my mantra before Gates even became a subject of such controversy and it lead me to Vandana Shiva, an Indian physicist & activist, where I learned how Bezos, Gates & Zuckerberg destroyed India in a myriad of ways via economics, vaccines & seed / farming….I realized that India was just a prototype for what they have done to the globe … all for their Profits Power & Control …As a result my art on FB & IG since the outbreak has been oriented around covid’s impact in a plethora of ways.

Smile II, 2020 pen & pencil on paper caron g rand

Smile, 2020 pen & pencil on paper caron g rand

When Cinco de Mayo occurred it was celebrated behind closed doors. In Puebla Mexico where it originated from the Battle of Puebla in 1862 where 6,000 French soldiers where defeated by 2,000 Mexican soldiers. In Puebla Mexico they take great pride in their history and usually battle reenactments occur along with parades, dancing & festivities….everyone is joyful and exuberant …. the one way we see that in humans is through the radiant smiles….something that this year was covered as those in Puebla went to p/u taco kits at local eateries in masks to them take them home to watch reruns of last years Cinco de Mayo….

I created these pieces to make a statement, create awareness and inspire people. Amidst this horrible pandemic we face right now, we need to be educated with facts. I also hope we can do our best to be human and avoid discrimination and unfair treatment towards the Asian community as a whole; thus, the big eyes. We are all in this together. We are all victims of this crisis.

Inspired by recent events, Cabrera’s work explores the intersection of graphic illustration and fine art, often using political satire and what it means to be a man and father in the modern world via his ongoing Crying Macho Man cartoon series.

“I’m not afraid to die” 2020 Oil/Canvas. 36X25”

“I’m not afraid to die”

Every experience has a Learning that for each one of us can be different.  Pandemic, death, fear, insecurity, shortages, selfishness, pain, hunger, uncertainty, lack of faith, desolation, doubt, all these words are different ways of identifying fear. Fear is really the biggest threat because it is the only thing that keeps us from true love.  True love leads us to acceptance and acceptance is the absence of suffering. From this acceptance of what happens, (COVID-19), I have created a character (with green skin) that whispers in our ears that he is not afraid to die: “I’M NOT AFRAID TO DIE” Dying is a fact that is always haunting us and at every moment it is happening.  That is the reason why at every moment we become a different person.

 What makes us perish and stagnate as inert bodies without will and without initiatives? It is fear that stops us in time.  In this space of time I have learned not to fear death and include it in my day to day life.  How could I avoid dying if that’s what we were born for?  In these confusing times for everyone, I have learned that the value of life is given by death and I hold on and hold on to my GREEN MAN, to the naive illusion of being able to overcome death with a white mask although neither I nor  him, will  be afraid.


Sue Kneisley “Say your prayers” 2008/2020 Styrofoam, decoupage, magazine headlines, wood, dust mask, paint

The original work was created in 2008 during the financial crisis. The media bombarded the nation with often negative and divisive sound bites, headlines, and op eds from political and economic pundits. As I recently examined the words on my art, I was disconcerted that in twelve years, very little has changed – except Trump is president and the Covid-19 pandemic is the major crisis (causing this financial crisis). I updated the artwork by adding a mask with Alfred E. Neuman’s smile. Alfred E. Neuman is the iconic face of MAD Magazine, whose motto is “What me worry?” The mask could represent protection from Covid-19, a cavalier or naive attitude towards the virus, or could be a muzzle to prevent freedom of speech, such as “Do not ask questions, especially those questions” during Press conferences and protection from the truth.

JASON JENN @jasonjennartist

In the initial outbreak of the pandemic in the US, like many others, I had to change plans completely. I didn’t imagine I would be spending so much time sewing cloth masks for people who needed them against an invisible threat. Nor did I realize just how divisive the issue of wearing masks would be. There are so many unknowns in the situation – its as if we all find ourselves sitting in the middle of a railroad track, not knowing when to brace for impact and catastrophe.

As for masks – in addition to those to stop the spread of Covid-19, we wear many masks to hide our true feelings all the time. We mask our emotions out in public or in private with people we don’t want to know how we really are. While conflict rages on about whether or not a person needs to wear a mask, the fact is they are worn by many people out of precaution and out of respect for others well-being. Their use has saved and continues to save lives.

video 2min 59 seconds created and performed by Jason Jenn videography by Vojislav Radovanović © 2020 Flourish Projects Group


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