Masks: Hi, I'm Morgan!
I did a quick art talk on my Instagram, @madhatmo, to explain Masks. Check it out on the page starting from the embedded post.
TL;DR: This work was created for an intimate gallery show, @606: Queer and Black Identities through the lens of social media, with fellow artists, Alexander Martin and Kameron Hoover. This piece speaks on the fluidity and utility of hair in the black community. With the change of my hairstyle, I take a new persona and vibe and quite literally have to reintroduce myself to others outside of the community across several meetings. Through the lens of social media and IRL black women carry this strong persona and outer shell well for our own emotional and physical protection but on the inside, we have a colorful array of emotions. As black women, our hair and demeanor are equivalent to Super Man's glasses or cape. Available in 2 versions were created but are exclusive to certain products.
If you want to read the rest please continue below.
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Hey, I'm Morgan Madhatter Mullen and I created Mad Hat Mo because I was inspired by this piece to start creating more original work. I was asked to take part in a gallery show by @xander9210. The show focused on black and queer identities through the lens of social media. As a black woman in Peoria, I knew that I needed to speak on the topic of hair. The fact that I would somehow transform into a new person almost literally to some people from different backgrounds. I realized I had spent months reintroducing myself to friends associates because I didn't have the same hairstyle as I had when I met them previously. To really drive the idea of the black and queer identity through social media I collected images of myself spanning a handful of years, each with a different hairstyle. No dramatic makeup, same full lips, mostly same neutral expressions. The only differences were the hairstyles, inner emotions, and angles. Through the lenses of social media, everything is fine, pretty, or funny. We can show off our hair and makeup. Put on a cute filter and document a time in our lives. I remember how I felt in every picture I've taken. Some I felt very funny or cute and others I felt hopeless but still very cute. During the beginning of 2019, I had so much planned for my life. I had money saved, planned on traveling every month, celebrating my 27th, forgiving my family members, and bossing up. Since May I've been faced with hardship after hardship. I took the middle figures with a Snapchat filter. I was supposed to go get pictures taken but I had received news that a family member had passed. I look cute but my soul was sorrowful. The idea that pictures and hairstyles are masks of a complete person was created. Black women are trendy and tough on the outside and are vulnerable on the inside and behind closed doors. The very low-quality image below was taken by my friend J.C. He is the reason this business exists. As we were setting up for @xander9210 gallery show. It was only a month after the funeral and I was in there middle of moving out of my own space. I made it through this really dark period with the support and love of my friends.
Masks version 2 was created about 2 months after the original. I was in a much better headspace but also still pretty sensitive about my situation. I think version 2 has a feeling of optimism for the future. I say optimism because I realized I only chose selfies that were from happy and nice times in my life. The bottom one I felt like a cute chicken girl. The bottom left I was at a wedding and bottom right I was at Disneyland for my birthday. The top I was visiting an art installation with my best friends and being cute. The only two sad selfies are the main selfies in the project and the catalyst for this work. The drama masks, tragedy, and comedy, in an ironic sense. This selfie reflects the figurative mask that we all wear on social media. Snapchat filters and selfies are super cute but really don't convey our true emotions. I posted this picture and people liked it but in the caption, I shared my feelings at the moment. Only some people read it and that's fine. The right-hand mask is the comedy, or Thalia, of the greek drama imagery. Comedy in an ironic sense because this is a general mask that black women wear at work, school, relationships, and social media. Now to the tragedy mask on the left, Melpomene, which is very self-explanatory. During the crazy part of the year and so much financial and personal loss, I found that I couldn't get the cry out that I really needed. I did cry multiple times but it wasn't getting it out. I could feel my soul mourning on the inside but I couldn't get it out. I don't express many emotions on my face and not surprisingly my face looks a lot like this when I cry. I'm glad that I made this piece so that I can look at these faces and be okay that I am both and all. In almost conclusion, these prints came in and I knew that I needed to have it printed with gold foil. I think it honors black women and our natural hairstyles as well as acts as a crown. If you are interested in a print please check out the store!
As I'm winding down this artist talk/ introduction to my life and work. I would like to say that this page won't be all serious stuff. I basically have it planned to do half-serious work and half fun stuff that I've always wanted to do but just didn't have the time or money (still don't have money just a lot of time). Teasers for the next two pieces are a reflection peace about 2019: persistence, hope, and longevity and ice cream. Obviously 2019 will come before ice cream. I'm thinking ice cream will be a spring/summer thing. Maybe I'll make some patches and dad hats for it. Any product you really want?