Lisa Shepherd and Nathalie Bertin co-created the "Breathe." project in 2020.
"Why am I not seeing beaded masks anywhere?" It was a simple question, one that Lisa Shepherd and her friend and fellow artist Nathalie Bertin both pondered in the same week back in April 2020. The coronavirus pandemic was affecting people across our country and around the world, and Nathalie and Lisa found themselves wanting to explore how artistic masks, in particular for them, beaded ones, were being used as a way of people expressing their experiences and struggles through this time.
And so began a simple Facebook group that they called, 'Breathe.' "We thought there might be interest from people just like us wanting to connect through artistic mask making. Apparently we were on to something! Less than two weeks later, our group had grown to over 1500 people!"
With such a large collection of this artwork being shared in their online community, potential buyers and galleries from around North America soon started reaching out to Lisa and Nathalie. The artists decided to invite submissions of masks to be part of a collection in a travelling exhibition.
As of by mid-2020, 45 masks had been selected by an independent jury to be part of the first traveling exhibition, later named the '1st Wave.' A few months later another collection was selected to be part of a second exhibition, named the '2nd Wave.'
CBC Radio - Edmonton AM clip, July 14, 2021: Breathe co-creators talk about the project and exhibit, opening at the Royal Alberta Museum today.
CKUA - Radio interview, July 13, 2021: Multi-disciplinary artists Nathalie Bertin and Lisa Shepherd, the co-creators of the breathe exhibition, spoke with CKUA’s Scott Zielsdorf.
See below for four of Lisa's own masks that have been selected by the independent jury to be part of the Breathe. 1st Wave and 2nd Wave exhibitions. The artist's statement for each piece is on THIS WEB PAGE.
Wahkohtowin Lisa Shepherd, 2020 Mixed media (Velveteen, glass beads, ribbon, hand-tied tassels, tin jingle, cotton “kohkôm” print lining) Selected to be in the Breathe. 1st Wave collection.
Be Well 2020 Lisa Shepherd, 2020 Mixed media (Velveteen, glass beads, cotton “kohkôm” print lining) Selected to be in the Breathe. 1st Wave collection.
How Much? Lisa Shepherd, 2020 Mixed media (Smoke tanned buckskin, glass beads, tin jingles, cotton “kohkôm” print lining) Selected to be in the Breathe. 1st Wave collection.
Legami Familiari, un Mondo a Parte (Family Ties, a World Apart) Lisa Shepherd, 2020 Mixed media (Ultra-suede, glass beads, 24K gold beads, tin cone, ostrich plume, rooster saddles, buck tail, "kohkôm" print cotton lining) Selected to be in the Breathe. 2nd Wave collection.