Taking the Mask Off: An Artist's Story

As teachers and mentors at Fusion, we strive to create opportunities for students to find positive ways to deal with stress and to express themselves. Some students play music or practice yoga. Others create art.

Morgan is a freshman at Fusion Academy Sugar Land. She creates art to help her cope with stress and uncertainty in her life. The following are her thoughts on a sculpture she created in Art class. As she was writing her artist statement, Morgan found a voice to the hidden parts of her personality, and she was able to express herself in a meaningful way.

 Ahmad Hernandez, Master Teacher at Fusion Academy Sugar Land

Morgan’s Artist Statement

I was inspired to make a piece of art that expresses a personality that no one knows about me. I picked one of my struggles that really affects me the most: fear-driven anxiety. I have taken that struggle, and instead of it letting it define me, I chose to let it inspire me to make this unique piece.

Creating this piece took several steps. I first sketched a few ideas like a monster, a brain, and an angel and a demon fighting in my head. It was like my happiness was fighting with my depression. But I wasn’t sure how to capture that in a sculpture. I ended up scrapping all of these ideas and instead I turned my idea into more of a spirit animal. To me, the tiger represents power and strength and that’s really what it takes to conquer a weakness.

This sculpture was made with many different materials. The one I incorporated the most was recycled materials, like an old atlas I found in my attic. As for the tiger, I made him out of grocery bags and magazines. The magazines are one of my favorite materials to use in art. Most people see just pictures and words, but I see endless possibilities and creations.

I chose these materials based on them being the best representation of my story. The atlas represents a storybook. I painted a sunset inside the book and made a tree line on the cover. The sunset is supposed to be a happy place, and the tree line is a dark and mysterious place. The mystery of the forest represents how I get overwhelmed a lot and just some days can’t get out of bed. The forest floor represents the wishes that we make and the luck we think we get from finding a heads-up penny. If you look closely, not all the pennies are heads up and that’s because not everything is going to always go your way. This conveys the idea that not everyone lives in a fairytale.

The message I hope people walk away with is that I’m this girl who’s lost in this world, but I found my way. I was diagnosed with PTSD, and I have a lot of anxiety and fear. But I’m stronger than my obstacles and what’s pushed my way. Everyone has struggled through anxiety or fear in their life, but you get through it. I also tend to hide a lot of my emotions from other people. I don’t like to show my weaknesses, so I put up a “Wall” or “Mask.” But ever since I was little, I used art as a way to comfort me. I can express myself through art without being criticized.

There are many ways to view this piece, but it is best seen in person. When I was asked to capture the sculpture through photos, I realized photos don’t do the sculpture justice. In-person, you can get the full effect and capture my message, but through photos, I feel that you can’t see the whole story. You can only see what the photo allows, and you won’t get the full effect of all the dimensions in the sculpture. As a result, you may not get the full emotional impact.

This piece means a great deal to me for many reasons, and this artwork is a glimpse into my world and it tells my story. I hope this inspires people as much as it has for me.