Lilian Mary Nabulime

“Each sculpture features a distinct mask and facial expression as a way of exposing people’s mixed responses to the action of wearing a mask. I designed the masks so that they vary in size and texture. Some of the masks appear as thick and heavy while others are thin and light. On several of the figurines, the mask is worn tight around the face while on others the mask fits more loosely. A few masks cover the entire face of the figurine while others are worn halfway down the face. This discrepancy represents emerging groups of people who have acquired the habit of wearing masks only when they want to or believe that it is necessary.”

The work of the sculptor Lilian Nabulime (b. 1963, Uganda) wants to raise public awareness of infectious diseases. Over the past two decades, her practice focused on creating sculptures with the intention of addressing and sensitizing people about HIV/AIDS, an epidemic that has cost and disrupted too many lives in Sub Saharan Africa. When Uganda’s government set a series of inconsiderate policies to its citizens in the name of combating the virus spread during the recent pandemic, Nabulime voiced her concerns through a new body of work “Keeping Safe From COVID-19”. She created a group of terracotta figurines adorned in masks that symbolize the ability to protect oneself from the pandemic. The notion of wearing masks to keep safe from the disease incited a variety of emotions.