Written in Water: 108 Death Masks

Nikesha Breeze's avatar Nikesha Breeze Vote Code: 67714

108 Death Masks This series of life-size ceramic sculptures consists of 108 individually carved death masks. This sculptural installation will act as a large interactive prayer. A communal honoring. Each mask asking the viewer to take a breath, and to allow a silent internal moment to honor those who have past and those still suffering from the mass oppression and murder in black and brown communities world-wide. Each face representing the lives lost in the countless stream of black and brown deaths in the United States and in the larger African Diaspora. From slavery and lynching to the current state of police shootings, political oppression, and mass incarceration, black and brown bodies have been the center of the largest war on a people that this planet has ever known. This series is an homage to the lives lost and still suffering in the struggle for freedom and dignity that continues to this day across the globe. Each mask is hand carved and coated in oxides and pigment. The effect being reminiscent of an ancestral artifact. The honoring of a person through the creation of a death mask is often reserved for people of nobility. This work seeks to honor those, unnamed, un-honored and unknown. Why 108? Throughout history and cross culturally, 108 has been considered a sacred and mystical number. There are 108 beads in a prayer mala, 108 ways to enlightenment, and 108 names of god. In some mystical traditions It is said we carry 108 lives within us and 108 traces of ancestral memory. 108 is significant in religion, spiritual teachings, medicine and astronomical science. Given this concentration of power inherent in the number 108, I decided to carve 108 individual masks. By the time one comes to the last face, they have taken 108 breaths in honor of the dead. They have prayed 108 prayers in whatever way their heart speaks, and they have remembered some part of their shared humanity within the struggle for peace and justice. Information on grassroots organizations for change will be available at the end of the masks. And 50% the sale of each mask will be donated to these organizations.

Entry Details
  • Art form: Installation
  • Depth: 4in
  • Medium: ceramic
  • Width: 5.5in
  • Year created: 2018
  • Height: 9in