The Masks

Michigan

www.biami.org/unmasking

Name: Enoch F

City: Ann Arbor

Brain Injury: Sustained in 1982 at age 15. I was walking across an intersection and was hit by a car.

Explanation of Mask: Purple is frustration because of a lot of physical stuff I am unable to do now. Orange is peace because I found peace with myself after my accident. Green is for beauty such as grass, trees, and nature. Red is for my anger and pain towards things I’ve missed out on due to my injury such as working, driving, having a family, and an everyday normal life.   

Name: Bobby

City: Grand Rapids

Brain Injury: 

Explanation of Mask: I have the gift of storytelling. There’s no telling if the story is true, but darn they are good stories and bear repeating. I have been a boxer, baseball player, and a race car driver, having fought Cassius Clay. I played ball with Al Kaline and raced against Mario Andretti.  My eyebrows are bushy, the top of my head is shiny. I’m losing hair in places and gaining it in others. However my sense of humor remains constant, and I love to make people smile, especially women.

Name: Bob

City: Grand Rapids

Brain Injury: 

Explanation of Mask: Bob is at a good place, not only in his group home, but in heart and soul as well. He is often heard saying, “No mad, happy.” He is a man of God and therefore a repetitive theme in Bob’s art is churches, lots of churches. He plays the guitar, and “Silent Night” is his favorite song. We sing it all year long. This mask incorporates an earlier art piece of his, in which he compares himself to Van Gogh.

Name: Chad

City: Grand Rapids

Brain Injury: 

Explanation of Mask: I am a cowboy at heart. I had been angry and frustrated after my accident, but once I started volunteering at a horse farm and was able to tap into that inner cowboy, things started to calm down. I returned to feeling somewhat normal, staying positive, and staying productive. I’m strong and helpful to those around me but just know I do things fast. This mask was done in 15 minutes. The phrase, “don’t fence me in” suites me just fine.

Name: Chris

City: Grand Rapids

Brain Injury: 

Explanation of Mask: I started my mask by painting the top half black. My mask is black and white, as I often see the world in “black and white.” The star comes from my love of rock and roll. Especially classic rock and roll. I made sure to add a fish as I am an avid fisherman as well.

Name: Dale

City: Grand Rapids

Brain Injury: 

Explanation of Mask: After my accident the doctor said I’d never be able to talk or walk again. Since then I’ve found the love of my life here at Hope Network. Not only can I talk, I can talk back, and tease her. With the use of a walker I get around. I walked next to my bride on our wedding day and continue to walk alongside her every day.

Name: Darline

City: Grand Rapids

Brain Injury: 

Explanation of Mask: I wrote the book on “making a joyful noise”. When I’m in the room, or the next room, you know it. I am truly a child of God. My husband and my children and their children are very important to me. The color purple is my favorite; I wear it often. I love math and can tell you how many men and how many women are in a room before you even think about it.

Name: Don

City: Grand Rapids

Brain Injury: 

Explanation of Mask: Sarcasm is my native tongue. I find it entertaining when someone can verbally hold their own against my banter. I extend much patience towards those I live with, and on occasion it may require a bit of patience to be around me. Besides this gift of being a word craftsman, I am also a craftsman when it comes to art, construction, and horticulture.  

Name: Edward

City: Grand Rapids

Brain Injury: 

Explanation of Mask: My love of the Michigan State Spartans came from my teacher at school. My love of cars came from my bus driver. Coloring is a way for me to show how I feel. I like to give my finished coloring pages as gifts. I love country music; it is my favorite to listen to. My mask is happy because I always show up smiling and happy.

Name: Eric

City: Grand Rapids

Brain Injury: 

Explanation of Mask: In my room you’ll find stacks of ads from flyers and newspapers. I collect them and go through them like a kid in the good old days with a Sears catalog at Christmas. Each day at 4:30, I can call home; I’m ready at 3 or even 2, but I have to wait till 4:30 to talk to my mom. I’m very expressive and like to talk with my hands. I am a quick wit and enjoy greeting anyone who passes by, “HI!”

Name: Greg

City: Grand Rapids

Brain Injury: 

Explanation of Mask: “Where do I go? Who will help me? Just tell me what I’m supposed to do next?” These are my concerns. All my shirts hang in the same direction with a finger width between each. I’m very organized! I do have a fun side, and when I get to giggling my whole belly shakes. I have a soft spot for ducks, and I wish people would leave their habitat alone. My hobbies include shooting pool, playing cards, and making models. I also have a pretty good eye at spotting morels. I’m meticulous in everything, and right now my hands are full of glue from making this mask and I don’t like it.

Name: Jamie

City: Grand Rapids

Brain Injury: 

Explanation of Mask: Jamie is a soft spoken man of few words. He prefers to combine words on paper or any medium available. He is a huge Detroit fan, supporting both the Tigers and the Lions. Meticulous in his artwork, he possesses great fine-motor skills. Every cap he owns has been tricked out, combining words of faith and sports.

Name: Joe

City: Grand Rapids

Brain Injury: 

Explanation of Mask: My life’s journey has been a bumpy road. Here’s the physical me: I’m in a power wheelchair, hooked up to an oxygen tank, and recently had my left leg amputated. Here’s the me behind all of that: I’m smarter than most, I like to cook, and I love to read. Reading transports me to another place and time. There a twinkle in my teal blue eyes, and I have a quick sense of humor. Yes, I can have a short fuse but it’s usually followed by a quick heart-felt apology. It takes a village, and I’m grateful to be here at Wildwood Village.

Name: Kathy

City: Grand Rapids

Brain Injury: 

Explanation of Mask: I love hymns, and on Wednesday night I enjoy singing songs during “Spiritual Growth.” I get to pick most of the songs we sing because I’m quick yelling out numbers. Wednesdays are also good because my mom comes to spend time with me. Tuesdays and Thursdays are also good because I get to volunteer, sorting books at the library. So you can see, I keep pretty busy.

Name: Lawrence

City: Grand Rapids

Brain Injury: 

Explanation of Mask: Title: “Mythology”

I am an avid reader of science fiction. The lightbulb represents my ability to visualize other dimensions, particularly in my dreams. My passion for dragons represents scenes of the supernatural world which I found comforting. I enjoy reading about dragons and appreciate their intelligence. I have had incredible experiences since my accident which have expanded my mind into science and the nature of eternity.

Name: Mark

City: Grand Rapids

Brain Injury: I survived a plane crash in Lake Michigan piloted by my father after a mechanical failure

Explanation of Mask: Title: “The Music Man”

I received my pilot’s license in July of 1985. I flew a single engine Ercoupe all around Michigan. I survived a plane crash in Lake Michigan piloted by my father after a mechanical failure. We were rescued by lone fisherman near Port Sheldon. My other passion has always been music. I have played the cello for years and continue to attend weekly concerts and perform concerts a few times each year. After my accident I was never able to pilot a plane again but continue to enjoy my musical abilities. I still carry my pilot’s license in my wallet to serve as a reminder of my life prior to my accident.

Name: Sandy

City: Grand Rapids

Brain Injury: 

Explanation of Mask: I’m colorful, and my mind is always busy. These eyebrows are made of “worry beads” because I worry a lot! I have to admit I worry too much about what will happen and about what happened in the past. The staff where I live always remind me to enjoy the present, because that’s all any of us has. I’m working on that. I don’t know if I’ll ever get there. I worry about that too.

Name: Sarah

City: Grand Rapids

Brain Injury: 

Explanation of Mask: Can I tell you something? I love pink, all shades of pink, and I love hugs. I’m never the first to let go. I miss my family so my extended family here at Wildwood are receiving a lot of hugs.  On the count of 3 I’m supposed to let go but like I said, I rarely let go first.

Name: Shannon

City: Grand Rapids

Brain Injury: 

Explanation of Mask: My brain injury is like no big deal to me; it has become a part of my life. I have had it so long that I can’t remember what it feels like to be “normal.” Going to get my nails done is my normal. I like to play cards at Hope Network. It is good to socialize with people who have the same disability as me. I also like going out in the community, getting my nails painted pink makes me feel great. I also like to go to the casino and out to eat.

Name: Thomas

City: Grand Rapids

Brain Injury: 

Explanation of Mask: Green and red are my favorite colors. This mask is unique like me. I’ve had lip rings since I was 16, and now they feel like they are a part of who I am. Airbrushing is something I discovered during my therapy, now I find it therapeutic to do it for fun. It stands out. At Halloween I draw a clown face on myself, and now I face paint for others as well. I am a warrior.

Name: Tomas

City: Grand Rapids

Brain Injury: 

Explanation of Mask: I feel like when I’m bad, I’m so bad, but when I’m good, I’m really good and on top of the world. I have to keep moving, walking, pacing; I’m kind of a wild thing. I am an artist and love to color and paint. This quote sums it up, “What is art anyway, except not pounding on walls.”

Name: Toni

City: Grand Rapids

Brain Injury: 

Explanation of Mask: Yes, a bad thing happened to me, but I choose to focus on all the good around me: caring people, the flavor of mint chocolate, wearing my favorite colors, and doing art. When painting, I always make sure there is a sun in the upper corner. This quote sums it up, “if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams, and you will always look lovely.”

Name: Sean S

City: Ann Arbor

Brain Injury: Auto Accident

Explanation of Mask: Top of mask shows shattered thoughts and brain.  Bandages on lips are how I feel silenced since the accident.

Name: Paul C

City: Clinton Township

Brain Injury: Motorcycle Accident

Explanation of Mask: I look and talk normal, but I know I used to know some things or how to do it. And at times I can’t remember. My eye’s also when stressed, see double or at time my brain ignores what the one eye sees.

Name: Margaret G

City: Ypsilanti

Brain Injury: Assault

Explanation of Mask: The tears show the loss of my life as it was prior to my assault.  I used eyelashes and lipstick to show that I am still a normal person even though I have a brain injury.

Name: Lori D

City: Brighton

Brain Injury: Snow Boarding Accident 

Explanation of Mask: One side reflects my life before accident.  I was happy, athletic, good mother, not on meds. The red hand shows how confused and angry I am.  I often wake up at 5:20 from a nightmare, time that accident occurred.

Name: Lisa M

City: Ann Arbor

Brain Injury: Auto Accident

Explanation of Mask: Yellow side of mask was prior to my accident, I was happy, loved being around people, could remember dates, names and events.  Blue and white represents all noises seem to be on same level, frustration not being able to remember dates and names.  Don’t like family gatherings and crowds due to noise.

Name: Kerrie W

City: Shelby Township

Brain Injury: Auto Accident

Explanation of Mask: Kerrie has “Locked-In” Syndrome , can only communicate with eyes.  Done by father

Name: Kaitlin H

City: Brighton

Brain Injury: Auto Accident

Explanation of Mask: Male/Female, black/white, it doesn’t matter who you are, we are all equal and different.

Name: Janet S 

City: Brighton

Brain Injury: Auto Accident

Explanation of Mask: Since my brain injury I feel like there are two sides to me. The happy, pretty side and the sad, depressed and frustrated side.

Name: Holly D

City: Brighton

Brain Injury: Brain Tumor

Explanation of Mask: The black mark is the hole left by the brain tumor after it was removed. It was the size of a golf ball. The words in black are the negative consequences of the tumor. The red around the black hole is the anger. The words in green are the things that are making my life easier again. The yellow represents how life is starting to get better around the edges.

Name: Elizabeth O

City: Mason

Brain Injury: Hit by a truck while walking

Explanation of Mask: I like gardening and knitting and enjoy the outdoors.

Name: Claudia S

City: Rochester

Brain Injury: Hit by a car while riding bicycle

Explanation of Mask: Because of the accident I had to drop out of school and my daughters were placed in foster care. Tear shows my depression that I struggle with.  Right side of mask shows my life before accident.  Happy, engineering student, daughters and the left side show my saddness, pain and hopelessness, but it does it good for me to get involved in community and advocacy organizations.

Name: Barbara T

City: Southfield

Brain Injury: Ruptured Aneurysm

Explanation of Mask: Left- “describes how I felt with aneurism, very confusing, red is pain, blue is sadness, no concept of what my life will be like, thinking I would need 24/7 care, my warrior spirit came out” Right- “represented spiritual transformation, purple is if you fight hard enough, you can do it”

Name: Anonymous

City: Clinton Township

Brain Injury: Victim of crime

Explanation of Mask: “Self explanatory”

Name: Alanda M 

City: Detroit

Brain Injury: Gunshot

Explanation of Mask: “Black/Red for anger & depression pain, feels he looks too grotesque due to misshapen eye. Isolated.” (This mask was made by a caregiver for a brain injury survivor) 

Name: Patrick R 

City: Farmington Hills

Brain Injury: Auto Accident

Explanation of Mask: “Drunk accident, 17 days in a coma”, Question mark means “who am I, what do I want, where I’m going”, Squiggly lines are “many different thoughts going through my head everyday”