Susan Rothenberg’s Three Masks and Painting a Mask

Susan Rothenberg, Three Masks, 2006. Oil on canvas, overall: 59 3/16 in x 66 1/8 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. The Dreier Fund for Acquisitions, 2007.

Currently on display in the Sant Building, Susan Rothenberg’s Three Masks (2006) depicts three theatrical masks, one held by a pair of disembodied mannequin-esque arms rising from a field of white.  Masks have been a popular subject not only for Rothenberg but for a number of artists. Recently, I was tasked with painting my cousin’s pee-wee ice hockey league goalie mask. Here are the steps I took:

  1. Disassemble the mask, removing the cage and all hardware.
  2. Sand the entire surface of the mask using 200, 400, and 600 grit sandpaper. Fill in any imperfections with body filler.
  3. Apply masking tape to the padding, and insert cotton balls into the vent holes to keep the mask’s interior padding intact.
  4. Spray filler primer onto the mask evenly.

    Photos: Sandy Lee

  5. Pencil in the design, and apply paint. In this instance, I chose acrylic paint for its non-reactive properties with the fiberglass of the mask.
  6. Apply clearcoat, polish with polishing compound, and reassemble.

(Left) The helmet in use. (Right) The author taking a shot on the goalie Avery Eng with featured mask. Photo courtesy of Jacqueline Warner.

3 thoughts on “Susan Rothenberg’s Three Masks and Painting a Mask

    • Thanks Abby! I try to update his mask each season (pro goalies MAYBE get a new design every 3-4 years or whenever they switch teams) It’s definitely fun coming up with the ideas and themes for the mask. I gotta work on my shots though, need more elevation on the puck!

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