Omar - Einstein Medical School, Bronx, New York

My mask has a lot of different colors, shapes, and patterns. When I was going about making my mask, I went about it just painting and designing what I was feeling in the moment.

And so, I was sitting where I live, and I put together a playlist of songs because I like to listen to music. Music is one of the things I like to enjoy. And it was a random list of songs that I had found on the Internet. And while I was listening to the songs, whatever I was feeling at the time, I painted on the mask. And so, that’s why you see there is a lot of different colors. There is really no one central theme to the I guess upper part of my mask. So, starting from the forehead – so, how I painted my mask, I started from the forehead going down. And so, this is where I started to listen to the music. And I started with this blue stripe here and I added different layers.

So, I was listening to a lot of different music. So, I was listening to hip hop, R & B. I was listening to Latino music, so salsa, reggaeton. But also, music from my own culture. So, I was listening to Haitian music. So, my family is from Haiti, an island in the Caribbean. And I was listening to Haitian music. I was also listening to African music, also, because I knew I was coming to Kenya.

And I actually really do like African music. So, I was listening to a whole bunch of different types of music. I was listening to classical music., yeah, all different types of music, just a random assortment of songs in a playlist that I just had lying around. And that’s how I went about painting most of my mask. You see my eyes, I spent a lot of time mixing colors. And one of the things I’m really happy that turned out was the stripe I made across my eye.   Because you can say I’m blind, but I’m not really blind per se, right? And the same things for the rest of the patterns across the mask. I spent a lot of time just mixing the colors and just seeing what felt right. And if it felt right in the present moment when I was painting the mask, I would somehow just lay it down on the mask like so.   The bottom part of my mask isn’t so random. So, most of my mask, I was just painting what I was feeling as I was listening to the music that I was listening to. But when I got to the jaw and the chin and the mouth, I decided to paint something a little bit about my own culture. And so, I’m from America. I’m an American. But my parents were born in Haiti. And I was raised as American and Haitian. And so, these two colors here, the blue and the red are the colors of the Haitian flag. And I also wanted to incorporate a little bit about Haitian culture and I chose to use two symbols from the Haitian voodoo religion. And so, I found these two symbols and this one represents happiness. It’s the symbol for the god or the deity of happiness.
And this one is the symbol for the god, goddess, deity of love. And that’s what I was going with these two symbols. on the bottom of my mask, I have a flag of the Republic of Kenya.  , I had Joarim draw the flag of Kenya because I just wanted to have a keepsake of my time here. And it’s really special to be here in this school in Kalamba and sharing this moment with students like yourself and the rest of your peers. And I just wanted to have something to commemorate that.

The last thing I had was a little ring of nose beads that I put here on my mask. So, I put this here – most of my mask was done in the United States, in America, but I finished my mask here in Kenya. And I was inspired by looking at Joarim’s mask, by seeing the beads that he had on your mask. And I wanted to somehow put some beads on mine.