What began as a small project at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic received special recognition during the recent Art is Ageless competition through Lawrence Presbyterian Manor.
“The name of the entry is ‘COVID Masks,’” explained Mary Burchill. “I made it back when the pandemic first started and everything started to close. I had no idea what prompted me to do it. I had begun making masks for a few people and family members. It’s been a year and a half that it’s been sitting here, so I thought I’d enter it in the contest.”
“COVID Masks” is composed of 45 mask-like pieces, on which Mary recorded pandemic notes, such as “stay home,” “library closed,” “curbside delivery,” and of course “masking masks.”
“It just came together,” Mary said. “I didn’t have any big thought behind it.”
At the outset of the pandemic, everyone needed a mask, but they were hard to find. Mary found a pattern off the internet and made about 20 for use at Presbyterian Manor. Then she made some for her family, not expecting anyone would take her up on the offer of a homemade mask.
“I ended up making 45 masks for our family. It was fun,” she said. “Off and on, I made more and I’ve made about 150 masks altogether. I don’t have the space to make big quilts. A quilt takes a long time and a lot of space. These smaller, little pieces — I like them better, anyway.”
Mary said it only takes about a half an hour to make each mask.
“You do have to think a little, but not much.”
In her 20 years at Presbyterian Manor, Mary said she’s entered artwork maybe eight or nine times, most often in the fabric category. This isn’t her first time in the winner’s circle.
“I put in a piece, inspired by a flight over Western Kansas,” Mary said. “You see these fields and the round irrigation circles. If you look at it the right way, it looks like a quilt I called it ‘Center Pivot Irrigation,’ and it won.”
In fact, Center Pivot was featured on the cover of the 2014 Art is Ageless calendar. Be sure to congratulate Mary for winning first place and best of show for “COVID Masks.”