The Trash Mask
With the recent uptick of spider webs, pumpkins, and general spookiness in Wichita, you know Halloween is nearly upon us. Halloween always serves as a fun and welcome outlet for creativity and in the spirit of the year’s most creative holiday, I’d like to showcase one of Wichita’s singular talents, Libby Wiseman.
Each year, Witchitans undergo familiar transformations: ghouls, vampires, dinosaurs, bumblebees, countless others. While most people limit this kind of self-transformation to the holiday, this is Wiseman’s art, year-round and endlessly novel.
Using make-up, face-paint, and wildly inventive costumes, she utterly transforms herself into artwork. “I've been using makeup as an art form since about 2013,” Libby says. “I remember seeing a magazine editorial and the model had skull face paint on and I thought, ‘this is really beautiful, I want to do this,’ so I did.”
Around 2001, she discovered a book called "Face Forward" by Kevyn Aucoin which completely changed her perception of makeup. “He used makeup to transform celebrities into other celebrities and I was blown away! It was the first time I thought of makeup as art.” Since then, the support of her family enabled major growth as an artist.
Wiseman’s Instagram handle, “The Trash Mask,” deservedly hosts over 25,000 followers and features a mindboggling breadth of styles, moods, and characters. The name “Trash Mask” is rooted in the idea of impermanence; that this too shall pass: “Makeup, art, my face, me, you, everything. While this idea can lead some people into nihilism, I find that it holds the ultimate freedom, ultimate possibility; you can shape your world however you choose.”
"Makeup will remain my creative outlet, nothing more."
“Makeup will remain my creative outlet, nothing more” she says. “I'm just conveying whatever strikes me at the moment, my emotional state, my excitement over something new I learned about. Sometimes I'm not trying to convey anything but whimsy through my makeup. The world desperately needs more whimsy!”
As one scans through her Instagram (the best place to see her art), this point is abundantly clear: whimsical, inspired, gorgeous, bizarre, disturbing, comforting, mystical; the sheer scope, variety, and success of ideas a grand achievement in itself.
As such, her work is inspired by just about everything: movies, song lyrics, paintings, history, editorials, fellow makeup artists, nature, a line in a book; “I once did a look because I saw a face staring at me in the wood grain on my living room floor. There's beauty and inspiration everywhere, just waiting for us to find it!”
"I'm not concerned with money or fame or getting my name out there."
For Wiseman, this is art for the sake of art: “People are often telling me to go to Hollywood or try out for ‘Face Off’… but I have no interest in that. I find that money and stress and ‘having to do it’ completely ruins the creative process for me. Maybe I'll do an art show at some point in the future but I'm not concerned with money or fame or getting my name out there.”
Whether the work is scary, funny, surreal, or beautiful (most often fantastic combinations of these at once), it is always just plain incredible. Follow Libby’s artwork on Instagram at @thetrashmask and if you’d like to help support her work, go to her Amazon Wishlist at www.amazon.com/registry/wishlist/AMIKPNQYO4P3. Be inspired, get creative, and have a Happy Halloween!