top of page

Hidden Mask Series (HMS)

The Hidden Masks are wall pieces which reference various stages of surviving (or not) external and/or internal trauma of a severe and prolonged nature. The text provides context for each "mask" in the collection.

Hidden Mask Series (HMS) Lee Ustinich/LeeUCeramics

HMS. No.1 Two-faced Selfie (above)

The mask references trauma, the double life of a battered woman - the light and the dark of the Self, the dichotomy and the synchronicity, or the lack thereof, imposed on the Self, externally and internally.

HMS No.2 Assembling the Survivor

This is part of "honoring the survivor", which informs a lot of my work and especially the pseudo-masks. This one is referencing the aftermath of domestic violence.

HMS No.3 Secrets

Secrets is in memory of a photographer/artist who took his own life. Porcelain, embellished and framed. The palette and facial elements were drawn from his work, Tribal Suicide, created in 2011, fours years before his demise.

HMS No.4 Survivor of No Secrets

The originally intended "HMS No.4 No Secrets" broke down the center-this is the surviving piece. Trauma reference--if you lose parts of your body/mind/Self, embrace what is left, alive, and functioning, and color it bright.

HMS No.5 Emerging

This piece was fired in the anagama kiln at the Sharon Art Center in NH. It is porcelain with a celadon glaze on the facial planes and a temmoku on the stamped area. The orange on the right side is on unglazed clay and is an attribute of the firing. "Emerging" references post trauma healing.

HMS No.6 Looking Out

Reference is trauma survivor's ability to be looking out, without fear, eyes open, taking in a straight-on view of the world, not hiding in the darkness of eyes squeezed tightly shut.

HMS No.7 Primal

The "tribal warrior woman" vibe references the post trauma survivor who has developed and actualized the determination and skill to effectively fight back against destructive and paralyzing submission states.

HMS No.8 Not Broken

The reference is trauma survivor, more together than not, complete and whole “as is”.

HMS No.9 Zombie Girl

After firing this piece the 1st time I realized a lot more was going on in my head than I had been aware of. My internal landscape erupted after I did some research on old school zombification poisoning practices (think of today’s date rape drug, tho far more potent/destructive). I found astounding similarities with certain trauma states in today's world...including my own.

For the refire, I brightened her up a bit and post-fire added some glitter and flower beads. Every little bit of further extrication from the past and losing even one more tether is a blessing.

Most survivors do not have access to state-of-the-art bioneural treatments (which are highly effective and fairly rapid). Most are stalled within the limits of "talk therapy" (CBT, REBT etc.) or some may get lucky with some EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). A relative view may gain access to more state-of-the art neural treatments emerging from research trials on combat veterans.

Even more never get any therapy at all, ever, and are caught in the brain-hardened loops of Trauma World, basically just treading water or getting worse over time. Zombie Girl illustrates some of that static state that endures and reemerges throughout life.

Some coloration is a bit yukky, and the metaphorical worm (left of the mouth) of the rotting Soul is a detail not to overlook. And yet, the Turquoise Matte & Glo Worm green convey a bit of sunshine hitting the surface of the Self.

HMS No.10 Zen

Zen is a state of being -the mask is a post trauma expression of Zen-like Self awareness and acceptance of Self.

HMS No.11 Heart-Eyes

Heart Eyes references healing of a trauma survivor as eyes that were once filled with pain and fear and anger become calm, confident, content, and optimistic. This piece has a bit of micro-dust glitter in the facial area.

HMS No.12 What Does She Sea

I broke HMS. No 12 What Does She Sea before firing. Was gonna trash it, but gave myself a talking to regarding the balance point between not keeping work w/real flaws/problems vs the metaphor of not dismissing "someone" becasue they are damaged. So, since the series theme is trauma, surviving, & healing, I decided to forge ahead. The repair, i.e. covering up the scar, integrates well and the bright colors & glitter dust to support a positive vibe for what she "seas".

HMS No. 13 Color Her Beautiful

Broken and torn, layers of blues, under and over the past and the present, life goes on.

bottom of page