Art Craft

#animals #Liz Sexton #masks #paper #sculpture

Marine Animal Masks by Liz Sexton Spotlight Beloved Species in Lifelike Papier-Mâché

April 28, 2023

Kate Mothes

A lifelike walrus mask.

All images © Liz Sexton, shared with permission. Photography in collaboration with Ben Toht

If you feel like a fish out of water, the saying goes, then you’re probably feeling a little confused or uncomfortable. St. Paul-based artist Liz Sexton gives the simile new meaning with recent marine-themed additions to her ongoing papier-mâché masks series, highlighting the distinctive faces of familiar creatures like walruses, manatees, and polar bears that find themselves out and about on dry land.

Sexton enjoys papier-mâché for its versatility and accessibility, using additional readily available materials like cloth, wire, and acrylic paint to build up each animal’s unique textures, patterns, and colors. Comprising her upcoming solo exhibition Out of Water at the Minnesota Marine Art Museum, the lifelike wearable sculptures draw attention to a variety of beings that rely on aquatic ecosystems for survival. Barnacles and belugas are photographed in atmospheric settings by the artist’s partner and collaborator Ben Toht, who captures each animal’s unique details and expressions.

Many of Sexton’s sculptures portray species that, in their native habitats, are under threat as they increasingly become entangled in nets and suffer the effects of the climate crisis. The delicate and often awkward balance between the human-made environment and natural ecosystems is highlighted in photographs of the masks in atmospheric settings by the artist’s partner and collaborator Ben Toht. The portraits playfully juxtapose the creatures with unusual locations like a grocery store freezer aisle, a campground, or a laundromat.

Out of Water opens May 6 and continues through September 3 in Winona, and you can find more work on the artist’s website and Instagram.


A figure wears a lifelike anglerfish mask.

A figure wears a lifelike barnacles mask.

A figure wears a lifelike beluga mask at the edge of a swimming pool.

A figure wears a lifelike marine iguana mask.

A figure wears a lifelike polar bear mask.

A figure wears a lifelike sea turtle mask.

A figure wears a lifelike trunkfish mask and waits at a train station.

A figure wears a lifelike manatee mask in a laundromat.

#animals #Liz Sexton #masks #paper #sculpture


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