Spirit Wrestler Gallery (Vancouver, Canada)

“mythical mask”


I find masks very interesting because as soon as a person puts one on, it’s almost instantaneous that they will talk and act differently. Some may say that masks are put on to allow the wearer to become someone or something else, I imagine that’s why Halloween has always been such a success, it’s the one time everyone can do it and it’s the “normal” for a night.

This piece, however, has absolutely nothing to do with Halloween. It is instead about shamanism - and how it is used to help, guide, and protect us. I remember, a while back, I was doing a telephone interview with a magazine and was asked about my work and what it is about - and why I would choose shamanism as a theme in my works? After I answered the question, she then told me that she thought I perhaps offended people with my whimsical uses at times. I answered that I was not aware that I offended anyone - and that if I did, I apologize as this was not my intent.

My desire in my work is to give the viewer something to think about - maybe even get a smile or chuckle at a piece… or at least become aware of the topic at hand… and that is exactly what I want. However, there are a few where I am serious about the telling of a story, myth, legend, or just defining the tools used in a particular hunt. For the most part I would like the viewer to be aware of the fact that some of the stories, beliefs and traditions are lost… some forever. In some small way I am trying to preserve and make the viewer aware of these beliefs and how they have helped, or at times, hindered us.

This piece ’ mythical mask ’ is of my inner-child view of a shaman, and how, from what I have heard, they are able to transform and become a certain other creature, depending on their needs. In this case, the walrus. Once again, not to poke fun of or mock, but rather for the viewer to take notice. As an artist, I can create the form to my desire… body parts can be smaller or larger, realistic or surreal, whimsical or serious…as long as I stay true to the story or whatever I’m working with at the time.

Here you have a man holding what appears to be a mask of a walrus. When the mask is off the man’s face, you tend to notice the more ‘human’ qualities, but when the mask is on, it’s the walrus features that tend to become more noticeable. It’s like a mask… it becomes something different when it’s on.

—Michael Massie

Michael Massie

Michael Massie


Inuit, Métis

Happy Valley - Goose Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

(1962- )

Massie’s work is a reflection of his mixed Inuit, Métis and Scottish heritage. In it, he investigates both traditional and contemporary themes. He has achieved renown for his innovative teapots that combine themes and symbols from his native Inuit culture with European traditions. Massie has been twice short-listed for the coveted Prix Saidye Bronfman and has an extensive international reputation. His work has been shown in North America and Europe, including the National Gallery of Canada. He was elected a member of Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 2011.