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Myhren Gallery exhibit explored 2020’s ultimate symbol

Photo by Wayne Armstrong

When COVID-19 threatened to sink fall programming at DU’s Vicki Myhren Gallery, Geoffrey Shamos and Lauren Hartog elected to swim. They postponed a planned installation and instead created MASK—an exhibit exploring the 2020 fashion trend nobody wanted.

Forty-three different artists contributed nearly 50 masks of all shapes, sizes and styles. 

“The mask is a form of outward expression, like our clothing or how we choose to represent ourselves, but it’s specifically masking our prime tool for interfacing with the world. So, there’s this really interesting push and pull between unique identity that comes through and the inability to read anyone’s expression,” says gallery director Shamos.

To find pieces to fill the exhibit, Hartog, who serves as assistant to the director, and a team of art students scoured lists of artists and Instagram profiles for creative ideas. About one-third of the contributions were from outside Colorado—from as far away as Germany, Australia and Portugal. The rest were by local artists.

The exhibit was slated to run Sept. 25 through Dec. 1 on a reservation-only basis, but like everything else in 2020, those plans derailed when increased COVID-19 cases in the Denver area forced the exhibit to close on Nov. 9.

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