About the same time that we all began to shelter in place, I created 3 small (6”x 6”) portrait drawings of my favorite college professors for a fundraiser.
While working from photographs I felt a very satisfying spiritual connection spending time with each of them. I also thoroughly enjoyed the simplicity of the drawing process. Over the next few weeks as it became clear that sheltering was going to last a while, I simultaneously found myself missing the connection to my closest colleagues, friends, and family. This opened the door to a portrait series. But there needed to be a twist. Comments about Covid-19 and sheltering had been abundant in letters to the editor in our local newspaper. In one letter, the writer commended Santa Feans for their adherence to mask wearing but she also lamented missing the hidden smiles behind them. This brought me to the idea of creating masks that pictured these smiles.
Once a portrait drawing was completed it was photographed to make a 16” x 12” photopolymer printmaking plate. For each tinted impression printed onto paper, a second impression was printed onto white fabric. These 2D fabric prints were then cut out and fashioned into masks that fit perfectly over the portraits. Since the masks are attached by just a few stitches they are easily removed.
An additional impression was made on fabric to create the wearable masks.
All works are monotype and intaglio with temporary collage on Arches 88 paper. Three “mentors” portraits are 11” x 11.” All other portraits are 16” x 12.” For greater detail and portrait pricing please visit The Masked Portraits.
Many of the images used to create the drawings were graciously provided by the following friends and family: David Hoptman, Francie Marx, Adam Shaening Pokrasso, Leah Devine Pokrasso, Ryan Shaening Pokrasso, Niki Nabavi Nouri, and Max Tischler
Max Tischler assisted me with the hand printing of images and the mask mounting onto the portraits. Donna Rosingana fashioned the masks from our printed images. Ramsay DeGive was responsible for the photo documentation of the event.
As an added bonus I was surprised to be presented with portraits of me created by most of the subjects in the exhibition.
This has been a phenomenal undertaking and I want to thank all those whose images appear in these portraits. I missed you during COVID.
Ron Pokrasso, July 5, 2021
Thank you Nellie and Paulraj for your generosity in hosting this event.