Rejecting anthropocentrism, Liz Sexton wants to break down the boundary between human and animal life. The Minneapolis-based artist creates large papier-mâché pieces of foxes, owls, and other wild animals designed to be worn by humans, creating a hybrid being that she often situates in non-natural environments, like a rat near the subway lines or a porcupine fish out of water.
Sexton began making her facial masks a few years ago after constructing a couple of Halloween costumes, although she’s worked with the versatile paper material for many years. Made of brown paper, paste, and paper pulp, each piece takes a couple of weeks, if not months, to create. The artist tells Colossal that her “hope is that the viewer gains not only awareness of the animal but a sense of kinship and empathy.”
I often work on species facing existential threats, such as marine life, though I suppose this uncertainty applies to most animals at this point. Photographing the animal heads worn out of their natural habitats, and in our immediate world, highlights the displacement that many creatures experience. I also enjoy working on animals that likely live very close to us but we don’t necessary see. Bringing them out into our human habitats, on a human scale, they become neighbors, commuters, a visible part of our community.
When not being worn, Sexton’s masks rest flat on the floor, appearing as a bust and adding to the reverential quality she hopes to inspire. For more of the artist’s animalistic projects—and to see the miniature rhinos, bears, and zebras she recently created for The New York Times Style Magazine—head to Instagram.
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