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MaskArt Competition


MASKART is a unique contest for MassArt Fashion Design students. MASKART celebrates how masks can communicate love, respect, and express our feelings during this strange time.

The MASKART Competition was initiated and sponsored by MassArt alum Julie Lam and her husband, Kapil Mathur. Lam is also the sponsor of Lam Prize, an annual student award that rewards creative excellence. With her experience in advertising, Lam has been publicly advocating mask-wearing since the early days of the pandemic. She hoped that a mask design contest will help showcase the talented students of MassArt's fashion department while simultaneously raising awareness about mask-wearing among a young audience. Julie Lam started MaskTogetherAmerica — a grassroots, social media, mask awareness campaign, by photographing mask-wearers and posting their portraits. This on-going project is seeking to create a mask advocacy community on social media.

the submissions

View the twenty-five entries for the MaskArt Contest from current fashion design students. Click on the "+" to view their artists statements and additional creative materials. 

    • Artist Statement: For this competition I wanted to make something fun and unique. I wanted to challenge what the traditional “mask” we see every day could look like, so I experimented with shape and form, creating something 3 dimensional that protrudes off the face. These are uncertain, and often scary times we are in, so I wanted to create something to show that you can still have fun, and be creative, even during difficult times. I made this monster mask with black cotton fabric, elastic, fosshape, and some acrylic paint. It's something fun and expressive, and I wanted to show that masks can be fun and wild, as well as useful and protective.

    • Artist Statement: As an artist, I work hard to develop artwork that speaks both to me and to others about the beauty that exists in the ruins of ancient societies. The mask I made for this project are staged recreations of my childhood memories. The series deals with issues of sexual orientation, gender identity and the lifelong imprint left on a child from their dance’s professor dynamic. I felt it was very important to use my voice through my artwork as weapons so I could inspire not only for myself, but for others who go through the same or similar journey.

      I try with every finished work to breathe life into a long forgotten Cambodia tradition dance culture so that its designs, ideas, innovations, and lifestyle are displayed on my mask. Working on this project has enabled me to cope with my past while further strengthening my bond with the people in my present. It is my hope that this project will present itself as an honest story both making the viewer open-minded with its blunt straightforward approach, and inviting them to its universality on the topic of adolescence.

      Watch the "Memories" Demo

    • Artist Statement: As people become restricted with everyday activities, most have turned to a physical outlet during these uncertain times. However, a problem that remains constant with athletic exercise involves the trouble of wearing a mask. Cotton or polypropylene fabrics stay wet with sweat or condense respiratory water droplets up against the face. An easier solution to avoid these problems is by using a moisture wicking material that dries faster than the average mask. The mask I’ve created has a four way stretch to allow an easy stretch over most face sizes and provide comfort during intense movements. The sides of the mask hold a pocket to attach headphones which can also be used to wrap around the ear securing the mask in place. The mask holds accents of reflective material so the athlete can easily be seen even on a run late at night. This mask caters to multiple common needs for an active person. I believe during such challenging times it’s important to keep moving both physically and mentally to overcome the obstacles we face in today’s climate.

      Watch the "Keep Moving" Demo

    • Artist Statement: This mask was inspired by how I've been viewing life events lately and how they've made me feel emotionally, and physically. I wanted to create a mask that could change into something else easily, just like life which can change in the blink of an eye but also be modern. This origami mask is fully functional and folds making it easy to be stored. The strap is interchangeable which allows customizations.

    • Artist Statement: My mask, which I've titled “What a Mouthful!”, is inspired by my senior thesis collection concept. My concept, basically, is about human beings and the connection between all of us, like the equal experience of the human condition. My collection includes hand-painted art of the outer appearance like faces, and the inside like organs. So I figured my mask can represent a human feature, one that masks hide: the mouth. To me this mask is playful, you are displaying a mouth while your real one is hidden. You still see a mouth while you talk or laugh, and in my creative representation of this mask I included some other ways of having fun with this mask. This mask is also pretty and visually appealing with the color combination of intense color on black fabric. The mouth is hand-painted with fabric paint and includes 5 neon colors of pink, orange, maroon, white, and black. Then, the mouth is hand-beaded. I used a combination of bugle beads, seed beads, and sequins. There are 2 ribbons on both sides, purposefully so one could tie them together and be adjustable to their own face. In summary, my mask "What a Mouthful!" is playful, visually appealing, functional and adjustable with hand-details and craft. The design, fabric and color choices are all inspired by my thesis collection concept of human beings. I am proud of this mask and will happily be adding it to a final look in my collection.

      Watch the "What a Mouthful!" Demo

    • Artist Statement: This pandemic has taken a toll on us all. We all left what is now our old glamorous life, for this paranoid and stressful one. This pandemic has brought on feelings of fear, panic, and sadness. This pandemic has personally made me realize that my open and free life before was much more glamorous than I ever believed it to be. So I decided to depict this emotion in a mask. I created a basic white cotton mask that is double layered. I hand cut and glued rhinestones together into teardrop shapes. I carefully placed these rhinestones to hang directly underneath the eyes to create a crying effect. I allowed these to dangle to give more dimension and movement. This mask is simple yet extremely expressive. It fully represents this sad and exhausting feeling of taking your old life for granted. This old life is represented as glamorous and rich, opposing this restrictive and fearful new one. This mask gives everyone the opportunity to show their true feelings of the pandemic, even while wearing a mask. The hope is for one day we will be able to remove this mask with a smile back into our old glamorous lives.

      Watch the "Old Life of Glamour to a New Life of Tears" Demo

    • Artist Statement: This mask was created with hope in mind. Each person wearing a mask has a hope; to keep others safe, to be able to do the things that make them happy, to get through this situation, the list is endless. Either simple or complex, a few or many— there is hope within us. I created this mask, which I titled Radiate, to give a visual of hope blooming from within. Just like half of our faces right now, our hopes always seem to be hidden—locked away for only a few to see. Right now I feel that it is dire that we share hope, because some are struggling to hold on to it. I brought hope to life by using a number of materials. The mask itself is made of linen fabric for both the inside and outside. The weave of the fabric is both tight enough to provide practical protection as well as lightness, breathable, and overall comfortable for the wearer. The outer mask is decorated with gold hand stitching and beading coming from a semi circle at the top. The beading and hand stitching is meant to resemble a sunburst radiating from the wearer. For practical purposes I added ear straps and a bendable metal nose piece—both recycled from my own old PPE masks. I also added long pieces of tulle that can either hang down or be tied around the wearers hair. I felt that adding the tulle to the mask brought in a delightfully playful aspect that is not present in most everyday masks.

      "... Just like moons and like suns,With the certainty of tides,Just like hopes springing high,Still I’ll rise."
      — Maya Angelou
      An excerpt from Still I Rise

      My inspiration was drawn from an excerpt of Maya Angelou’s famous poem Still I Rise, a poem I have loved for years. Through the years, I’ve followed Maya Angelou on her life journey in all of her memoirs. Through all of her trials and disappointments she experienced in her life, she rose gracefully through it all, somehow carrying hope with her. This mask is meant to represent hope seeping through in the form of sunbeams. It represents hope within a time that we all can feel a little hopeless in. So instead of keeping our hope inside for only ourselves, why not share it? Why not radiate it?

    • Artist Statement: This mask was inspired by corsetry and fetish wear. It is made with a black satin and laced with a white satin ribbon. There is lacing up the back, down the sides, and across the facial portion of the mask itself, and satin was chosen for its sheen. I installed grommets to stimulate the corset effect of lacing.The crosses add a classical gothic element which aesthetically with corsetry in this context. I used white ribbon to serve as contrast from black satin. My vision for this project was to create something edgy and dark that would attract attention to whoever wore it but still have a dark element to it.

    • Artist Statement: Last spring, everyone watched as the world changed almost overnight. The mask became a universal garment, and while originally worn for function, it has found its way into the world of fashion as well. For my MaskArt submission, I have depicted the sun and moon, which remain constant in nature, even during unpredictable times on earth.

      What "Night and Day" Demo

    • Artist Statement: There is a Chinese idiom that“破茧成蝶” literally translated as butterfly breaks out of the cocoon, which originally means the process of pupae shed their skins and turn into butterflies through painful struggle and unremitting efforts. It is a metaphor that after a difficult situation, the suffering will eventually end. The hand embroidery butterfly on the mask expresses our best wish to defeat the COVID-19 and usher in a day without suffering.

      In addition to fashion, I also considered the safety, practicality, functionality, and recyclability of masks. The Fully-sealed design safely fits the face by adding the silicone from nose to mouth, so this mask can be worn for a long time without indentation. The three-dimensional structure design of the mask has been increases the breathing space, and it is not easy to damage one’s makeup when wearing it. Nose bridge strips strengthen the fit of the nose to prevent air leakage and prevent fogging when wearing glasses. The elastic ear straps can be adjusted in length to fit for different head shapes. Silicone ear hooks are soft and comfortable, and you can wear them for a long time. This mask is divided into two parts: the filter and the main mask. The filter is made of melt-blown fabric, waterproof fabric and skin-friendly fabric, which can be replaced after used. The main mask can be washed after removing the hand embroidery butterfly and can be reused.

      Watch the "破茧成蝶—Butterfly Breaks Out Of The Cocoon" Demo

    • Artist Statement: I started my bridal look around the time lockdown began, over these past months I've thought a lot about the brides who lost their day. This mask, made of repurposed material from my bridal look is to honor and thank the brides that gave up their day to keep others safe.

    • Artist Statement: My focus with this design was to create something that looked good and enhanced the experience of wearing a mask without discarding any of the protective qualities. The base of the mask is made with a simple gray cotton fabric with some hand-embroidered lavender. Inside of the mask is a double filter with lavender inside of it. The lavender is a nice scent known for its relaxing properties which I think we can all appreciate during this time. Lastly I have some loops on both sides of the mask, which charms can be put in with the option to remove or switch them out. I have made two charms to go with this specific mask, they are made of wire and dyed paper pulp. They were made with the same inspiration of lavender.

    • Artist Statement: I have designed this mask by using embroidery, black ribbon and gold grommet. Rose symbolizes wisdom and strength, by adding a small hand embroidery rose gave the mask a classic and minimalist look. Reusable cloth mask is much more sustainable than a disposable surgical mask, not only is using a reusable mask eco-friendly, but it’s also cheaper. It is very important to wash cloth face masks regularly for personal hygiene reasons, I have designed a changeable cotton underneath the mask. Since the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected many people’s mental health, I added an embroidery motivation quote on the changeable cotton to encourage and remind yourself to stay strong during this crisis.

      Watch "The Dream is Still Alive" Demo

    • Artist Statement: With this piece, I wanted to include two qualities that come hand-in-hand this time of year — warmth and safety. In the early spring months of the pandemic, it got fairly hot wearing regular masks, but that thin layer is nothing against the cold winter temperatures. Those spring and summer months are no more, and with snow coming as early as October this year, there’s no telling how cold it may get as the months go on. Lined with lightweight and breathable quilt batting, this mask provides the warmth our face needs to fight the frigid cold, as well as the protection to ward off this insidious virus. The quilted puffer exterior of the mask mimics a typical puffer jacket, while the black color creates a universal and easy styling option with endless combinations. The interior is lined with a soft beige-colored plaid cotton fabric, which adds a stylish detail to a very practical accessory. The straps are made of comfortable elastic wrapped in the same nylon used for the exterior and customized to fit you personally. The top and bottom darts allow for maximum comfort and a snug fit designed to reduce the bulkiness and the bird-shape of other masks while still allowing breathing room.

    • Artist Statement: My son died In a motorcycle accident wearing his favorite jacket "FLAME". I know he is now an Angel and he is watching over me.

    • Artist Statement: Over the past eight months we have been living in a Covid world. Between social distancing and staying home, times like these feel a little more dull for everyone. However there is an escape that almost anyone can enjoy at a time like this, and that's nature. As an artist, I have found comfort and peace in green spaces. Green spaces are healthy for us, and are mentally, physically, and socially beneficial. Only to imagine the fresh air blowing between the leaves of the trees soothes us on an emotional level. I have created this mask to inspire going outdoors and living in green spaces. This mask, made with tech fabric wickers water away, prepared for any weather. The design detail of the contrasting zig zag stitch and cording make for a new secure and active design. The classic color combination of green and blue emphasize the colors of nature while being bright and fun. This mask is made for anyone who wishes to explore and enjoy the outdoors during this time of crisis.

    • Artist Statement: Between the election, the pandemic, and just being a human, there is so much fear in the future, but wearing a mask shouldn't add to that fear. Quilts have been a way for folks to tell stories through textiles for generations, and creating a quilted mask was a way to capture the story of how we are existing now.

      I wanted to make a mask that felt comforting; like you're snuggled up with friends and family you haven't seen in a while, underneath a quilt that was made with love!

    • Artist Statement: Today we make provisions to breath clean air. Aira pura. Made in the USA, from a bread crumbs container.

    • Artist Statement: Even though wearing a mask doesn't guarantee complete protection from catching the coronavirus, it's the best preventative measure we can take among others. Despite how uncomfortable it can be to wear, it's best for everyone's safety. Therefore, the mask I designed is purposed to remind the wearer and those around them why it is so important to wear it to prevent it. My mask is composed of 3 layers of fabric. The first layer is a slightly sheen, textured, black mesh that supports the weight of the embellishments. If I had sewn the beads directly onto the mask it would have opened the weave of the fabric, creating holes. This layer is then sewn onto a black, cotton fabric underneath it, which has openings at both sides to support the adjustable strings. The string is actually one piece that acts like an apron-- the top loop goes to the back of the head , then the strings continue from the front to the back so they can be tied to the individual's comfort level. This string is made from the same black cotton and it is much more comfortable to wear than the elastics, which eventually hurt the back of the ears if worn for a long period. Lastly, the final layer is the lining which is also made of black cotton for comfort and extra prevention. The virus embellishments are a dazzling sequined red fabric with white beads protruding from it in odd angles. It was my deliberate decision to create wonky, non-uniform shapes that would invite people to look and ponder what it really stands for. The mere fact that they slightly resemble "molecules", invites one to study it. Furthermore, the disorganization adds to the whimsicality of the mask, making it lighthearted yet intense. The situation depicted is very serious but my portrayal of it is intriguing and slightly comical. Not to mention, my design was inspired by an image I had seen in the media of a city street infected by photoshopped virus particles. I remember feeling disturbed when I saw the image because it conveyed the reality of our situation and it instilled a level of anxiety and fear inside me. I wanted to transfer this message onto the mask. It's especially directed towards people who are still stubborn and unwilling to wear one. With this design, I am reminded that the virus is still ongoing, and a mask is a helpful layer that the virus needs to overcome before it makes contact with our face and reaches our respiration system. It's the first level of defense, so let's just wear it.

    • Artist Statement: Since I was little I loved flowers. At my childhood home, we used to have these lovely tulips and daffodils intertwined with our yard’s wood line. In the spring, they would bloom and my mom would have us pose with the flowers for little photoshoots. We still have the framed black and white photos of me and my sister smelling the flowers hanging up in our house. My mother died when I was younger, and this flower photoshoot memory is one of the few things I remember about spending time with her. I think It’s why I have such a strong connection to flowers. They make me happy and bring back old memories. With this mask contest, I wanted my mask to be based upon a happy thought. Masks generally bring up sad emotions due to them being related to COVID-19. And while we should not forget the reason for wearing them, I believe that we should keep a positive attitude and let the happiest parts of ourselves shine through them. Staying positive in dark times is more important than most of us realize. It improves health and your overall well being. This wildflower mask represents the happiest parts of me. I hope it shows you, and those who see it, my outlook on life.

      Watch the "Wildflower Memories" Demo

    • Artist Statement: I’m a Black Man.

      During such a difficult time that we’re experiencing in 2020, it is my duty as a Black man to remain strong and resilient in a world full of black vs. white hate crimes. This mask represents the strength that social and political pressures helped to solidify my identity as a African-American man in America. Style is shown in a variety of ways that displays character, sometimes without having to say a word.

      "Life is what your creator gave you for free. Style is what you do with it." - Dr. Mae C. Jemison; Astronaut.

    • Artist Statement: We are experiencing a rise in COVID-19 cases/hospitalizations, hostilities from racial injustice, and a raging 2020 political climate, this is why the Hat of Reflection is about a wounded nation in need of introspection. This black felt top hat adorn with broken jagged mirrors reflects the environment. A third person to those interacting with the model. Echoing back any hostile actions, words, and gestures. The stars and stripes are sewn into a band wrapped around the crown. Signifying the global unity of the Covid-19 pandemic. The United States of America is represented by the piece of fabric that acts as a mask; swaying off the hat, waving in freedom. America is hanging by a thin blue ribbon, revealing the weak leadership and assaulting climate of the 2020 Election. Gold stars embellish the ribbon that honors all the Americans who have and will pass. We sit behind the black veil of mourning, may there be a day of reflection.

    • Artist Statement: Refusing to communicate with the outside world, obsessed with their own worlds. Masks greatly wrap humans themselves around the body. Psychologically do not allow others to come near them.

      Watch the "Universe 25 _Indulging" Demo

    • Artist Statement: This 'Winter Soul' mask is inspired from the first snow of the season. The first snow makes our beautiful nature magical with a crispy air and silky white snow blanket. 'Winter Soul' represents harmony of a safe and beautiful upcoming holiday season.This mask has two layers with design on the top layer. Mask ear loops are adjustable and comfortable. The colour of this mask is make-up friendly. This mask comes with a bag which can be used for storage or safe washing.

      Watch the "Winter Soul" Demo

    • Artist Statement: Black America is facing two different pandemics. COVID-19 and institutional racism. The words "Let Us Breathe." are stenciled and spray painted onto the fabric in reference to the final words of George Floyd and Eric Garner. On the opposite side is the black power fist. It features leather straps which can be tied behind the head to avoid pulling around the ears.

    • Artist Statement: This is an idea God dropped in my spirit. When I first heard about the contest I wanted to do it but didn't know what I was going to do. I was praying asking God for new ideas for my final project in pattern drafting, not thinking about the contest, but then my teacher Jennifer mentioned it after class. The next day, I couldn't get the words "the rose that grew from concrete" out of my head. I remembered that it was a 2pac poem. So I looked it up to refresh my memory. When I googled it, its almost as if the poem was speaking to me, speaking about me. Long live the rose that grew from concrete when no one else ever cared.

      Watch the "Rose from Concrete" Demo


Jury-Selected Prize - $2,000: A panel of jurors will select the winner of this prize

Public-Selected Prize - $1,000: A public vote will determine the winner of this prize


Julie Lam
Julie Lam is a New York based painter, photographer, designer and writer. Lam attended Hong Kong Polytechnic, in Hong Kong, and Massachusetts College of Art, in Boston, to develop a foundation in art and design. Lam also earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University, in Cambridge, MA. The Surrogate, one of her short plays, won the Audience Award of The Writer’s Voice Ten Minute Play Festival, in 2017. Lam’s urgent effort to promote mask wearing during the COVID pandemic has been curated by Medium, and published in the New York Voice. Julie's passion to effect change on the individual level — stems from her desire to stand with the marginalized and advocate social reform. Prior to pursuing writing, Lam worked as a creative director at several Boston and Manhattan advertising agencies. During her advertising career, she created memorable campaigns for Fortune 500 companies including American Express, Motorola and Time Warner. Her campaign launching TD Ameritrade has been taught in Harvard’s marketing curriculum, and was notably the highlight of a video spoof at President Clinton’s final White House Press Correspondents Dinner. Julie Lam’s work has received industry recognition and many awards, including The One Show, the Emmy, D&AD, and The London International Advertising Award.

Cynthia K. Sakai
California native Cynthia K. Sakai was no stranger to the arts, growing up in a household with two design oriented parents; her mother worked at a prestigious Fashion House in Rome and her father as an architect. After an extensive pursuit of an acting career, Cynthia decided to move in a different direction when she launched her first accessories line, Girlboy by Koco, at the youthful age of 18.

By age 21, the talented and driven young entrepreneur started a multiline showroom in Los Angeles where she further explored her love of the fashion industry, but her interests soon shifted from the showroom to designing her first jewelry collection when her friend gave her a beautiful Italian bracelet. Cynthia was intrigued with the detail and craftsmanship of this captivating piece, and at that point realized her most inspiring category in the jewelry space; Vita Fede was then born in 2009.

Cynthia’s entire collection is handmade in Italy, so it’s no surprise that the brand name is Italian; Vita Fede translates to “life” and “faith,” two elements that connect people across cultures. Cynthia is quite worldly herself so naturally, she draws from her unique surroundings. Each collection is inspired by the beautiful lifestyles, languages, unique architecture and natural scenery in the cities Cynthia has visited. A fusion of American, European, and Asian cultures, the Vita Fede aesthetic is both classic and timeless with a modern twist. Every piece is designed with superior craftsmanship and profound attention to detail.

Cynthia founded Evolvetogether during the pandemic to provide affordable medical-grade face masks that are sleeker than your medium blue surgical mask, but just as protective. In the brand’s short months of existence, Evolvetogether’s sleek, all-black masks have already become one of the most popular in Hollywood, covering the noses and mouths of Jennifer Lopez, Hailey Bieber, Justin Bieber, Bella Hadid, Vanessa Hudgens, Emily Ratajkowski, Kaia Gerber, Cara Delevingne, and Heidi Klum (to name a few). Easy to wear. Easy to style. Designed in NYC, each highly breathable medical-grade mask offers superior filtration and is stamped with global coordinates because we’re all connected no matter our gender, race, religion or where we live. Mask up and show you care.

Petra Slinkard
Petra Slinkard joined PEM in 2018, following her role as Curator of Costume at the Chicago History Museum, where she worked with a collection of more than 50,000 examples of fashion and textiles used in exhibitions, research, and community outreach. At PEM, Slinkard fosters the growth and inclusive spirit of the museum’s celebrated fashion initiative to develop a vibrant array of exhibitions, installations and programming that celebrate the global impact and reach of fashion and textiles. Slinkard oversees the museum’s newly opened Fashion and Design gallery and is the co-curator of Made It: The Women who Revolutionized Fashion which is organized in association with the Kunstmuseum Den Haag. In her role as Director of Curatorial Affairs, Slinkard oversees the integration of PEM’s exhibition research and curatorial teams and develops departmental priorities and the strategies to deliver them.

Petra conceived and curated the exhibitions, Chicago Styled: Fashioning The Magnificent Mile®, and Making Mainbocher | The First American Couturier, for which she authored catalogues of the same titles. Prior to CHM she worked at Newfields (Indianapolis Museum of Art), where she helped expand the museum's fashion and textile exhibition program and collection, as well as supported key events and the Museum’s Fashion Arts Society. At Newfields (IMA) she helped to shape a number of exhibitions such as An American Legacy: Norell, Blass, Halston and Sprouse, Body Unbound: Contemporary Couture from the IMA's Collection, and co-curated Ball-Nogues Studio: Gravity's Loom. Slinkard is an active member of the Costume Society of America (CSA) and the American Association of Museum Curators (AAMC). She serves on the National Board of CSA, and previously served as a juror for the Milla Davenport Publication Award and the chair for the Richard Martin Exhibition Award Committee. She regularly presents programming on fashion and design history, as well as museum studies. Petra is a graduate of Indiana University, Bloomington, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Fashion Merchandising, a Bachelor of Arts in Art History with a concentration in Modern and Contemporary Art and a Master of Science in Fashion/Textile History. In 2017 she was recognized as one of the University’s '20 under 40' most distinguished alumni in the College of Arts and Sciences and joined the advisory board for I.U.’s newly established School of Art, Architecture and Design.

Dustin Ellis
Dustin Ellis is Vice President of A.L. ELLIS, Inc. a fifth generation, family owned and operated curtain manufacturing company. The company was established in 1920 by Arthur Linwood Ellis. The main headquarters and manufacturing facility is located in Fall River, MA where a lot of products are hand made by their skilled employees. A.L.Ellis is a wholesale curtain business, servicing mail order catalogs, specialty shops, department stores. online stores, mass merchants as well as discount chains. Their product line includes curtains, draperies, top treatments, bedding, toss pillows, and chair pads.

A.L. Ellis is working with the local non-profit group Masks4Meds, a grassroots initiative created by a Plymouth, MA family in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The initial goal of the Masks4Meds team was to raise funds to provide surgical masks to healthcare and other essential workers. The team is proud to have donated over 50,000 masks throughout the south shore area of Massachusetts. Since then, the mission of Masks4Meds has evolved, and we are currently committed to providing protective products for personal and business use. A portion of proceeds is directed toward providing essential businesses and organizations with a variety of protective products.