Brain injury survivors display 1,000 masks in art show

Brain injury survivors from around Minnesota gathered on Saturday at the Earle Brown Center in Brooklyn Center for an art event called “Unmasking Brain Injuries.”

For the past year, Fox 9 has reported stories about people painting masks to tell the stories of their brain injuries. We were at the last painting session two weeks ago, and now all of the masks are on display at this art show.

The Minnesota Brain Injury Alliance has collected more than 1,000 of these masks from people across Minnesota. In a combined effort of art and therapy, the masks allow survivors to express how traumatic brain injuries have affected their lives.

People who have suffered serious concussions and traumatic brain injuries may look “normal,” but on the inside they struggle with memory, cognitive abilities and emotions.

With the masks serving as a metaphor for their own faces masking their injuries, the art allows survivors to paint and display how these injuries have affected them.

According to the artists, it has been an important part of their own expression and recovery.

“Until doing this with the people with the Brain Injury Alliance, I didn’t know that I could have the words to speak and share my story,” Scotti Stirling told Fox 9’s Tim Blotz. Stirling suffered from a concussion.

“I made each gem a different step I took in the process,” said Taylor Worley, showing off her intricately decorated mask. “Like, hey, it may have taken a year, but I’m back to taking classes at school. Each one of those has to do with that.”

The event is the first time all 1,000 masks have been brought together.

Watch the video above for the whole story, and a tour through the exhibit.