Of Myth & Mummery

mummer n. 1. A performer in a pantomime.
2. One who goes merrymaking in disguise during festivals.

mummery n. A performance by mummers.

myth n. 1a. A usually traditional story...that serves to unfold part of the world view of a people or explain a practice, belief, or natural phenomenon

- Merriam-Webster

Back when I had my commercial mask-making business I started to question the role and purpose of masks in modern America. This led me to seek the traditional roots of Mardi Gras and Halloween, and I soon found myself tumbling down a rabbit hole filled with mystical characters and rich mythic traditions, of guising Mummers and processions of "Wildermen", of Grecian temple rituals, and ancient bear cult legends with roots going back to hunter-gatherer Europe.

Through this research came my recognition that modern masks in America (outside of living indigenous mask traditions) have largely lost a connection with mythic themes and the land around them. And with that came a desire to integrate the echoes of old mythologies into my own work, and into my teaching and collaborations with others.

Because masks carry an incredibly rich heritage, I feel that they are an ideal art form to bridge our past and our present. Additionally, when we create or decorate them with the raw materials of the land, they offer us a powerful way to honor the cycles of nature and celebrate the sacredness of place.

This website documents my process as I transmute twenty years experience of making masks with no grounding in place or tradition into something with a deeper meaning, and I hope, a greater artistic and cultural value than all the things that I'd created previously.

Moni J. Sears

January 2020