The Many Faced God


The Many FAced God

Blaine Bacchiocchi

“I sewed it together with this open stitch, so it looks even more gruesome.”

Interview by L. Valena

Can you describe to me what you responded to?

I received a video- a stop motion animation. It was all real things, or at least it looked like real things. It was a papier mache mask without any embellishment- just the newsprint. It was kind of this growth cycle. The mask cried- it cried little plastic rhinestones or something. And then that turned into a growing of plant life around the mask. And then at the end of the animation there were flowers- the crying kind of grew life around the mask.

And what was your first reaction to that?

I got very philosophical. Death, rebirth- the cycle of life. And then I started thinking about the news, because newsprint was the main texture in the image. So then I kind of got the idea that bad news can create new life, new opportunities, new things. It's not always all bad. And that kind of spiraled- I couldn't figure out what I wanted to do with that, but that's really the narrative that I wanted to follow. I had a whole bunch of mask molds, so I just made a bunch of masks using some recycled paper that I had, to see where that would lead me- I like papier mache and stuff. I decided that I actually wasn't too keen on following the narrative that I got out of the original piece, so I started with materials.

[At this point in the interview, Lucy's cat Tiny Henry randomly bites her, and sends her into hysterical laughter. She finally regains her composure.]

Where were we, before we were so rudely interrupted by Henry?

I started with a process that I responded to, which was part of the original piece. To me it was creating the masks. While I was taking the masks off the molds, things started to rip and bend, and I realized that I liked it. I wanted to see if I could create something more three-dimensional. I thought about playing with making all four of the masks into one object, but I wasn't sure if that would stand. Does it hang? Not sure. But in the original piece, things were coming out of the holes, to create this kind of cycle. I thought about how I could also play with the holes- things coming in and out. I then decided to play with light, because it's something I like exploring, and I've used it in some pieces recently.

I decided to make a lamp. I was thinking- is it the many-faced god (from Game of Thrones)? So I thought about putting them together. I also like when sculpture can be functional as well- so I found a cheapo lamp at Salvation Army and spray painted it. I used some wire to attach things, and I had sewn all of the masks together. Then attached them around the light of the lamp, to create a lampshade. So then I have this wire growing out, as well as the light growing out of the holes. So, I did it. I don't know what it says yet, or if it says anything at all, or if it's saying several different things. But I like it. I like the way the shadows cast on the walls. The cast shadows kind of look like the head and beginning vertebra of a skeleton. Maybe it's kind of like Medusa, maybe it's kind of like the different faces we portray to the world, and how changing they are. Our facade changes our relationship with those that we interact with.

I think it's interesting that you started by talking about where bad news can take you, and it's not always to bad places. You started there, and then also responded to the idea of things growing from these eye holes, and replaced them with light. There's just something interesting here about shining light into darkness or something.

The paper I used, when it dried... this is really gory, but have you ever seen Texas Chainsaw Massacre?

No. But please go on.

The bad guy in that story is trying to create a woman suit for himself.

Silence of the Lambs got into that too, right?

Yeah. And historically, there have been people who have been leatherized and made into furniture, and lampshades in particular. I thought that was an interesting connection. When I pulled it off the mold, the paper looked very skin-like, but it's grey. So it's kinda like dead skin. And I sewed it together with this open stitch, so it looks even more gruesome.

Ugh- god. That lampshade thing was something that happened during the Holocaust, right?

Yes, there are rumors of the Nazis making lampshades out of people's skin.

And if you want to go back even further. There was this missionary named Sahagun in the 16th century who spent a lot of time living with the Aztecs. He wrote this enormous [12 volume] book called the Florentine Codex, and I was obsessed with in high school. I spent all this time in the library after school poring over the Florentine Codex, because that's how deep my nerd goes, okay? There was this one set of drawings that I just kept coming back to- it was hard to tell what was going on. There were people in the drawing, but they just looked strange. But after some digging, I realized that the people portrayed in the drawing were wearing the skins of other people. That was a thing that would happen. So that's why everyone had two sets of hands, for example. Seventeen year old Lucy was like "HOLY SHIT MAN!"

That reminds me of when twelve year old Blaine found out that the Egyptians pulled out the brains through the nose holes. "THAT'S THE COOLEST THING EVER!" But anyway. Yeah, this is multilayered- other people can read whatever they'd like to into it, and if they get any of these little hints about the things that I've discovered through the process of creating, they can create their own little narrative out of that.

Now that you've done this twice, do you have any advice for someone else?

To not get stuck too much into what you're reading into someone else's piece. Because you can read all sorts of things from it, but when it gets filtered through your knowledge and process, it can come out completely different. But then still have some ties to the prompt! But you don't have to be 'right'. You don't have to interpret it 'correctly'- however you interpret it is correct for you. There are breadcrumbs and threads that are going to tie all of this work together regardless. Your piece doesn't have to be 100% direct from the prompt, if that makes sense. Because all art is going to suggest 17 different avenues for you to pick up on, regardless.

Right. It's never A to B to C. It's usually A to Blue to 56.

Call Number: M15FI | M18VA.baMa



Blaine Bacchiocchi is a Fine Artist and Art Educator. She is currently finishing her Masters Degree in Visual Art Education in the Boston Area and resides in Buzzard’s Bay Massachusetts. Blaine has a life-long love of creative endeavors and enjoys working in a range of media. Her current project is a mixed media installation dealing with the role of Visual Art education as part of a holistic education practice, and in particular when it comes to the needs of social emotional students, with a little bit of psychological theory thrown in the mix for good measure. She enjoys finding layers of connections between issues and concepts that may otherwise seam disparate and exploring those connections through the use of 2D and 3D materials.