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  • Writer's pictureMel Erickson

Courage Unmasked Exhibit

In 2014, I had the privilege of participating in the Courage Unmasked exhibit in Nashville, TN. Courage Unmasked is an annual event that originated in Washington, DC. The event benefits patients and families affected by head or neck cancer.

The masks for this event had been worn by patients treated at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center. Each mask is molded into the shape of the patient's head. In some cases, patients provided information about themselves that was shared with the artist receiving their mask.

The picture below shows the final piece I made as it hung in the exhibit at Sarratt Art Gallery. I titled it "Tribal Energy".

Following a Gala event at OZ Nashville on September 27, the art was installed at Sarratt Art Gallery through November.

Prior to the event I was informed I had "made the cut" and my image was included in the article about the event published in Nashville Arts Magazine!

Upon arriving at the exhibit opening, I learned my piece had 'pre-sold"to an individual sponsoring the event. (Unfortunately, I have since lost their name.)

Funny story: My piece was meant to hang with the head straight up and down and the bamboo base at an angle (as it appears in this post). Just to be sure I wouldn't get a big head over all the attention my piece was getting, the Universe stepped in. When I flipped to the article in the Nashville Arts Magazine, the image had been taken at the wrong angle! The bamboo backing was up and down and the head was angled. (sigh). Oh well. I did at least see it in time to notify the event curator so that it was hung properly in the exhibit!


The treatment protocol for head and neck cancer requires a specially fitted mask that is clamped to a table to hold the patient's head still during treatment. The mesh material allows the patient to breath unassisted during the treatments.

More about Courage Unmasked -

More about Sarratt Art Gallery -

More about Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center -

More about OZ Arts Nashville -

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