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An Inuvik-based Métis artist’s decorative mask will be on display at art museums around the country after being selected out of 79 entries in an online contest.

Eliza Firth said she came across a Facebook group called “Breathe” which calls on artists to express themselves by beading masks. She decided to put together one and submit it and it was an instant-hit.

Eliza Firth holds her ‘Delta Rose’ mask which will be a part of the Canada-wide ‘Breathe’ exhibition this fall, starting in Banff. Firth’s mask was one of 45 selected out of 79 submissions.

“It was just a ‘Wow’ kind of feeling,” she said. “I got selected from all these artists across Canada.”

One of 45 entries selected by eight judges, the mask will now go on tour across Canada, starting at the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies. The exhibit is expected to open in August.

Firth said she didn’t enter the competition herself, it was actually a friend who put her in the running.

“I had called Tony Devlin and did a photo shoot with the mask,” she said. “After the shoot, Tony went ahead and submitted the photos to Breathe.

“I didn’t think for one second about the extent of this.”

Called the ‘Delta Rose’, the mask is made from moose hide and took several months from concept to creation. The beads of the ear adornments are carefully selected to represent all peoples of the world and the roses themselves are for people awaiting the end of the pandemic — “waiting to see the colours,” she put it.

As for how she came up with the concept, Firth said she let the idea grow organically as she was trying to keep occupied during the lock down.

“I just put it together and drew some half-roses,” she said. “My creation was different every day.

“It’s a reminder of this pandemic — a question of how much isolation can we take?”

Breathe‘ is a Facebook group created by Métis artists Nathalie Bertin and Lisa Shepherd. It maintains that none of the masks submitted are medical grade and are for artistic purposes only, not protecting against Covid-19. It was created April 6 and has since grown to nearly 2,000 members displaying their creations. It is open to anyone interested in traditional beading and craft works, and now has membership and submissions of mask styles from all over the world.

Eric Bowling

A lover of knowledge and adventure, Eric Bowling jumped at the opportunity to write for the Inuvik Drum and to see the world from a totally different vantage point. He has covered just about everything...

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