The Masks

New York

In Partnership with

Name: Tammy D.

City: Saratoga Springs 

Brain Injury: Stroke during surgery 2/1/06. Right hemisphere damage, and parietal, temporal, and frontal lobe ischemia.

Explanation of Mask: My recovery has been very sensory. Through the stimulation and appreciation of the functionality of my senses, I came to grasp that they were the key to experiencing a beautiful and purposeful life moving forward. I am no VICTIM! I am a vibrant warrior and true survivor. Today I hear God, taste joy, feel love, smell victory and see success! My mask depicts peace, pure white tears, and a halo to symbolize surviving a near death experience, and knowing the “GLOW”.

Name: Angela T.

City: New York

Brain Injury: Traumatic, hit by an 18-wheeler while driving home from a Yankees baseball game

Explanation of Mask: Angela 1 died on July 31st, 2008 and Angela 2 was born that same night.  My newly wed husband was killed in the car crash and I was flown to a medical center with broken ribs, a fractured scapula and C1 vertebra.  I was a Glascow Coma Scale of 3.

Angela 1 was a VP of a PR firm.  Angela 2 is a widow who sleeps more, gets lost occasionally and is more easily confused.  The multicolored gap symbolizes the 6-week “beauty nap” (aka coma) where an old self was healing and a new self was emerging.

Name: Brad G.

City: New York

Brain Injury: In May 2012, I sustained a closed Mild Traumatic Brain Injury.  I fell and the back of my head struck a concrete wall.  This occurred, as a result of a structural collapse.  A (Diffusion Tensor Imaging) DTI MRI, showed that I have a diffuse axonal injury.

Explanation of Mask: My mask represents all of the INVISIBLE SYMPTOMS that I’ve experienced, since my traumatic brain injury.  

Respectfully, I wanted to help raise awareness about the invisible cognitive, physical and psychological effects of a TBI.  It was created out of frustration which was derived from family members, friends, acquaintances and strangers, who have told me that you look find and there’s nothing wrong with you.  In this case, a picture is not worth a thousand words, yet, many words paint a picture.

Name: Bryan S.

City: Brooklyn

Brain Injury: I was in college and was assaulted

Explanation of Mask: Blue color reminds me of drowning under water.  It’s on top because I feel like I’m underwater, being submersed and I can’t breathe.  The purple represents my depression.  It’s always surrounding me, and I cannot escape those feelings.  The green represents prosperity.  It’s the opposite of what I had expected for myself in life.  I had always looked up, wanting to strive for excellence and now I have to look down inside of myself.  Red is my blemish that I’m not proud of because it’s when I get mad or angry.  Yellow is wisdom you take away by going through such an injury.

Name: Elizabeth G.

City: Flushing

Brain Injury: Traumatic brain injury as a result of a vehicular accident

Explanation of Mask: The eye symbolizes visual distortion.  The words around the masks- pain, confusion, and overwhelmed- are feelings I have everyday.  The words on the chin- creative, fabulous, and gracious- explain who I am as a person.  I’d like to express my creativity when given the opportunity.  The music signs are because I love all kinds of music, the heart symbolized my big heart.  The pictures on the mouth represent the importance of nutrition for a healthy brain.  The teardrops are for the inhumane treatment I received from my guardian week after week.  The mask is outlined in glitter because your brain is more valuable than gold.

 Name: Conan O.

City: Schuylerville

Brain Injury: Severe traumatic brain injury caused by a car crash in Feb. 2012

Explanation of Mask: When you look at me and hear me speak you would never know that I have a brain injury.  Everyone always tells me how great I look and how well I speak.  This mask represents what you can not see.  It exhibits the over stimulation and severe pain that I experience on a daily basis from just using my brain.

The pictures at the bottom of my mask illustrate the flooding or over stimulation that I feel from the environment around me.  I can no longer filter unwanted information.  Therefore, I need sunglasses and ear plugs to reduce the background noise.  The remaining pictures represent the pain I experience.  Sometimes it is a migraine on steroids, other times it is mental depletion because I have used my brain too long.  The pain comes in many different forms and lasts for varying durations.  My mask is black to represent darkness and isolation.  I have to isolate myself in the dark to recover from over stimulation and pain.

Name: Emmanuel T.

City: New York

Brain Injury: April 24, 2009

Explanation of Mask: There are skull elements because I have wished at times (and still do) that I didn’t survive the fall.  There are a few words written by myself and that many have said to me.  “You are so lucky” implies that I am happy I survived.  “Hole” is because it’s where I feel I am in life.  There’s a “W” and “Ass” above it because I don’t feel like an asshole.  The “brightside” under the left eye and “roses” under the nose is because I’m sarcastic and it’s what people say.  There’s a “?” question mark over my left ear because in my TBI, my skull broke and smashed all the bones in the left ear, which is explained around the edge.

Name: Janet O.

City: New York

Brain Injury: Aneurism in 1996

Explanation of Mask: Confusion.

Name: Laurie R.

City: New York

Brain Injury: Traumatic, hit by a car crossing the street two times

Explanation of Mask: “Before” and “After” intertwined. 

Film strips as hair = the past, family memories, creativity, ideas – like neurons firing + interacting to do.

Straws = straight cockeyed straws sucking world in + straight out.  Rapid, chaotic, too many ideas, too much – no mingling.

Name: Liz D.

City: Brooklyn

Brain Injury: Blood clot on right side of brain resulting in a double stroke at age 48

Explanation of Mask: The yellow and pink represents my positivity and determination the be the best Liz I can, given my second chance at life.  Blue represents hopelessness and heartache after my boyfriend of 20 years kicked me out while my son was incarcerated, leaving me lonely and very isolated. 

Name: Lorna A.

City: Queens

Brain Injury: Aneurysm

Explanation of Mask: The yellow side of my mask is my good side.  The yellow reflects the positive side of realistic hope and happy and strong and content and a sense of purpose.  The dark side becomes the bad side.  The bad side represents confused and frustrated and hopelessness.  I often feel overwhelmed.

Name: Mauricio B.

City: Queens

Brain Injury: TBI

Explanation of Mask: Genesis: Rebirth.  A new beginning.  Reorganization.  Renewal.  Coming together as one.  Mauricio II

Name: Michael S.

City: New York

Brain Injury: Traumatic brain injury due to a skateboard accident when I was a freshman at Mount Saint Vincent College in 1986.

Explanation of Mask: To portray my brain injury and what happened ever since that near tragic day.  Everything is blessed.

Name: Pearline G.

City: New York

Brain Injury: June of 2012, accident and I was hit by a young man in a Chevy Tahoe – probably texting

Explanation of Mask: Evolution of my life, since injury in 2012 to now.

Helpless >>> Hopeful

Confusion >>> Cheerful

Frightened >>> Confident

Irritated >>> Thrilled

Frightened >>> Empowered

Frustrated >>> Empowered

Grief >>> Joyful

Worried >>> Positive

Name: Rendy K.

City: New York

Brain Injury: Multiple injuries from a car accident in 1987, including a brain injury that was undiagnosed until 1991.

Explanation of Mask: My mask represents nature, the universe’s natural beauty, and other things I love.  These features have been and are crucial to my wellbeing.  Within the last 4-6 years, my brain injury was properly diagnosed and with the help of superb professionals at a brain injury treatment center, I was rehabilitated.

On my mask are small representations of tremendous influences.  There are many little stickers representing things and places that I love and heavily supported me during and after my “recovery.”  However, as a person with a brain injury, the devastating experiences of having a brain injury misdiagnosed and inadequately rehabilitated for more than 20 years, is still troubling.

Name: Peter

City: New York

Brain Injury: It began as a seizure, following more afterwards

Explanation of Mask: I want people to understand the pain and anxiety I am experiencing.  How can I reconnect with my children, family, loved ones and community?  Will I ever overcome this?  Can I be cured?

Name: Sherry  

City: Brooklyn, NY

Brain Injury: Traumatic, skull was crushed when hit by a car in 1983.

Explanation of mask: It shows the car that hit Sherry. She went back to teaching Spanish two years later, which are the vocabulary exercises on the mask’s cheek. The photo of Sherry and her husband Larry on the forehead shows a cruise to Canada they took in 2000. She was diagnosed with dementia in 2015 and is working hard to overcome it. The red around the nose and mask is her favorite color.

Name: Sonya K.

City: New York

Brain Injury: I am the victim of a speeding hit and run (A limo which ran a red light) and sustained a traumatic brain injury.

Explanation of Mask: My mask represents life.  I am very grateful- not because I survived but because my TBI gave me access to a unique experience.  What does it mean to be a person?  It means to live an emotional life and living with a TBI is emotional.

Name: Steph C.

City: New York

Brain Injury: Loss of taste and smell after a fall

Explanation of Mask: I am generally happy, which is why I chose gold.  Sometimes I feel sad, which is represented by the umbrella, but the sadness is almost gone so the umbrella is blowing away.  The dice represents the lack of filter for the things I say (not that I had much of a filter before) and the sporadic moments when I think I can taste again but then it’s gone the next bite.  The otter makes me smile and remember why I went to law school.  I missed out on some opportunities because of the injury, but I’m where I am meant to be and things are just fine.


Name: Silvinia

City: Forest Hills

Brain Injury: Hit by a car that ran a stop sign while I was running in my residential area

Explanation of Mask: A lot of confusion felt… often: I see things very negatively sometimes and positively others. Aspects I see negatively: what happened and the effects on my life – all aspects of my life. Aspects I see positively: my excellent recovery, how far I’ve come and how far I will go: in all aspects of  my life.