My last Monday post, Fiery Tulips, was a product of anger. If I’m being honest about it, more a product of fear. Because I wanted to be a good professor after every class, I would think back over the class and would remember a thoughtless comment or an expression that betrayed too much. Since I was teaching students about working collaboratively with others, I mirrored the notion of self-reflection and owning up to one’s mistakes. So I would begin each class with the words, “After reflecting on last week’s class, I would not say this but this or that exercise did not work perhaps better to do this…”  I was always aware while teaching that students did not like being lectured to. So when I was a good professor I was showing, not telling.

When reflecting on Fiery Tulips I believe I did too much telling and not enough showing. Being a grumpy older person who shakes a finger and lectures will not engage those running by me in a productive conversation, one where both parties can feel known and heard.  I also taught my students that problems always have the possibility of a creative response. While I could think Fiery Tulips was a creative response to mask-wearing since I made a pretty metaphor and took a blurry photo, turning to the language of fashion offers me something more.  I asked myself the question, “How can I turn a mask into an object of beauty, a conversation piece, an object that does not create fear or division but one that becomes a catalyst for communication?”

Masks have had a lengthy history of multiple functions, protection being only one. Masks can perform, disguise, entertain, and provide care for your skin. Masks have been a feature on the runway for a very long time. The master of the mask is Jean Paul Gaultier. Perhaps in eerie premonition masks were quite a feature during the Fall/Winter 2019 collection. In this photo I’m wearing a mask created by a junior designer I admire, Melitta Baumeister. The flowers snap on and off allowing one to rearrange. There is also a version in white and some clever buyers have switched the flowers to make black and white looks. By buying a mask, I also made a donation of one.

I have a vision of accessing or making masks that are beautiful, like those made by JP or shown on the runways. They are so compelling the girls running by me stop and exclaim “That mask is beyond, where did you get that?” We will start a conversation. In the end, we’ll know each other a little better than we did before. We’ll remember the moment we each became an actual person to the other. During my post Fiery Tulips reflection, I remember there is always a dialog that can occur when we use the language of fashion to start it.

What creative solutions are you finding to solve problems caused by the “Great Interrupter”?