Rachel Pozivenec

After graduating from the Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA with a degree in Creative Psychology, I returned to my home of the SF Bay Area. Since then, I've deepened my commitment to follow the strange, circuitous path of masks to ultimately further an artistic and intellectual understanding of who and what masks are. My ramblings lead me to Mongolia for a mask-making apprenticeship and to the creation of masks over endless days, thanks to the help of late-night owl hours, early morning smells & solitary silence, jazz & grimy tunes, rum, science-fiction & fantasy, books of any sort, a few poets, and everything & anything to do with the unfolding outdoors. 

Why masks?

We live in a very complicated world. Notions of what is right and wrong oscillate within changing perceptions of justice, truth, love and beauty (to name a few) and somehow we attempt to navigate this chaos (and it boils faster). 

How do you know which way to go? 

I have some stuff of life (we all do). Really, really rich material. This is why I create - because I can, and it turns out there are quite a lot of interesting things to say. More than I could explain in words. 

What is a mask? Pick it up, feel it in your hands... hardened clay texture and fur. Perhaps a vague expression crosses your face. You might even put it on. Now you are given recognized permission to be someone other than yourself; you are now welcome to become whoever is the mask. 

I often wonder what happens behind a mask. It is a bit strange - masks are everywhere and anywhere as long as humans have been around. Do we become more ourselves the moment we merge with a mask or something different? I cannot fully or coherently answer this question, but I can share why (I think) I make masks. 

I am inspired by nature. I have an almost insatiable thirst to become closer to the creatures I carve. Did ever you want to be a vet or zoo keeper, even for a small moment, as a child? I believe that some sort of magic begins to play between myself and the animals I like to create. But really, I make these masks for others. I make faces so you can wear coyote, sea turtle, fox, or hare. I make these for you to connect with our neighbors of the trees, skies and seas. I forget all the time that they’re there, patiently watching and perhaps hoping we’ll either learn from our mistakes or self-destruct, leaving them to the peace of summer quietly turning into winter. 

But I am mostly inspired by humans. I’m inspired by the chaotic search for happiness and a sense of growing urgency to the undeniable injustices in the world. I’m inspired by the absolutely insane standards of life we’ve placed upon ourselves. Within all of this, I’m inspired by the search for the self. Who am I in the madness of this world? What do I want? 

Sometimes I feel a seemingly endless feeling of futility. My chest feels as if it will sink into a vast negative space beneath my ribs, all before I’ve opened my eyes to the morning. Yet I believe our ancestors have the answers. I find a sense of peace when I think of my grandmother, my grandmother’s grandmother, so on and so forth. Perhaps it’s my upbringing, but I do believe that the imprint of all who came before us has an impression upon the trajectories each one of us has in our lives. I believe that if we sit quietly and invite the lessons of all our ancestors, we are given the opportunity to make wiser choices for ourselves and everything that surrounds us. 

I create old faces with a touch of the young because I hope to remember that we can still learn from what is hidden in our blood. Teach me, wolf, turtle, fox, and hare, so that I don't continue contributing to the seemingly relentless destruction of this planet, I might say quietly to myself in a carving reverie. 

Try it on. And maybe see what happens when you watch someone else wear a mask. It’s a little mysterious, yea?

CV

2016 - "Folds of the Night." Fairfax, CA

2016 - Mask Making Workshop. Fairfax, CA

2015 - "Timelessness" Fairfax Arts Walk. Wu Wei Tea Temple. Fairfax, CA

2015 - "Creatures of the Night" Bolinas Community Land Trust Fundraiser. Bolinas, CA

2015 - Txchar Magazine Interview. Larkspur, CA

2015 - "October Klanghaus" Klanghaus. Oakland, CA

2015 - Mask Making Workshop, Bolinas-Stinson School. Bolinas, CA

2015 - "Taco Shop Art Show" Casa Manana. Fairfax, CA

2015 - KPFA "Open Circle" Radio Interview. Fairfax, CA

2015 - "Music, Masks, and Mayhem" Kress Jack. Mill Valley, CA

2015 - "Buckelew Benefit" Playhouse Theater. San Anselmo, CA

2014 - Mask Making Apprenticeship. Ulaanbaatar & Gobi Desert, Mongolia

2013 - Literature Reviews on Masks & Ritualized Performance. Olympia, WA

2013 - Mask Making Workshop. Olympia, WA

2011 - "Pancakes and Booze." San Francisco, CA

2011 - "Tsunami Pop-up Show." Fairfax, CA

2011 - "Everything is Art - Issue W" Publication