Miya Turnbull is a mask-maker who works specifically with self-portraits as a way to explore different facets of her identity. She has created a Photo-Mask technique to make life-like representations of her face and often distorts and manipulates her image in various ways which she then wears as a ‘false face’ or ‘second skin’. Miya has exhibited her work throughout Canada and internationally and is the recipient of many grant awards. She holds a BFA from the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, and currently lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
“Over and over, I create variations of my ‘self’ through new masks. My self-portraits are photo-realistic but often altered- I change the placement or even erase select facial features. I create other extreme manipulations resulting in distorted representations. I do this as a way to explore my identity, specifically being half-Japanese and examining my feelings of being ‘in-between’. I am also interested in the space within defined margins; where beauty turns into the grotesque and where the outer persona shifts inward and vice versa. By keeping my image a constant, I am able to experiment with multiple iterations and further explore my heritage, experiences, perceptions and inner world, making these visible, tangible and wearable. I am drawing from the traditional uses of masks worn for disguise, transformation and protection, and as symbols for persona, self-image and identity. Ironically, I am placing my face on the front of the mask at the same time concealing my ‘self’ behind it. I can then manipulate how you see me. I dissect, distort and reconstruct my own image in an attempt to examine myself from an outside perspective, and separate myself from physical appearances, which is how we are often defined and labelled, especially at first glance. I am attempting to continuously hone in on the transitory nature of identity, duality and ‘in-betweenness’; to reveal and embody something previously hidden with each self-portrait variation. As a group of self-portraits, I hope the viewer looks deeper and sees a part of me in all of them, or perhaps in the space between all of them.”
See her work on her website, www.miyaturnbull.com, and her Instagram account, https://www.instagram.com/miyamask/.
Also to view a recent mini-documentary in collaboration with Fashion for Bank Robbers, visit https://youtu.be/F5XKOjtXHmE.