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State of California Partners with The Center at Sierra Health Foundation to Launch Masking Series

Masking TV Spot: 30 Seconds

African American visual artist Jessica Wimbley always knew she was destined to be an artist. Growing up, her parents owned an advertising agency and conversations in her household about visual literacy and critical analysis naturally played a part in her life.

Recently, those conversations came full circle, with Wimbley creating video and still photography works called the Masking Series to support the State of California’s COVID-19 public awareness campaign. She enthusiastically embraced the opportunity to apply her gift of artistic storytelling to move her community to action to stop the spread of the deadly virus.

The Masking Series comes on the heels of the April 15 eligibility date when all California residents aged 16 and over became eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Getting vaccinated, wearing a mask when appropriate, and watching our distance are critical to stopping the spread of COVID-19.

Wimbley’s background is evident in her artistry, which is multi-layered. It tells the story and celebrates the resilience, strength and endurance of community through what she describes as biomythography—or biography, history and mythology.

This method, a term coined by writer and artist Audre Lorde, is the basis of Wimbley’s work. By employing painting, drawing, photography, collage, and other mediums, she is able to draw on her personal experiences and combine them with history and a sense of mythology as a means to show a more nuanced and intersectional subjectivity.

Still Masking TV Spot

The goal of the Masking Series, created in partnership with the State of California and The Center at Sierra Health Foundation, is to speak directly to Californians who have been hardest hit by COVID-19, including the African American community, through images reflected in Wimbley’s artwork.

In each piece, everyday masks take on a green screen effect, featuring video and still photography projected onto masks worn by people representing California’s diverse communities. The Masking Series includes Wimbley putting on and wearing a mask that depicts video and collaged images of Californians taking action, such as wearing masks and getting vaccinated, to protect one another during the pandemic.

The overlay of images on the masks reference the rich African tradition of Masquerade—performances of masked characters that provide an overview of what has occurred culturally over the last year, teaching lessons and giving advice.

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