April artist of the month showcases Venitian masks

Lisa Herdman

Anastasia Jessalee Bell is a freshman bachelor of arts teaching and graphic design double major and has been named Artist of the Month in April by the leaders of the Washburn Art Student Association.

Bell’s work will be featured in the Kaw River Rustics Gallery in North Topeka starting April 22, showcasing her work on Venetian masks, paintings, charcoal drawings and graphic designs.

The main feature of the gallery will be Bell’s work on her Venetian masks, an art that she was first recognized for.

“I had to teach myself how to make the masks,” Bell said. “The art of making Venetian masks is a lost one, and I had to learn as I go and take it my own direction.”

Five major masks that Bell created will be in the gallery. They are mainly a mixture of three forms of art: painting, gluing cloth and silversmithing. Each mask has its own theme, including steampunk or a specific emotion.

“I want my audience to feel empathy, which is so underrated,” Bell said. “It’s a key part to being human and being social, looking at something and feeling something. Even creating something in the artwork and dissecting it.”

Bell originally wanted to be a marine biologist, but, she found herself drawing a lot and creating pictures of the sea, hermit crabs or dolphins.

It wasn’t until high school that an art teacher influenced her to change her mind. Encouraging her to take four years in ceramics and two years in silversmithing – a class which she used later to create her Venetian masks.

Bell would like to go on to become a teacher and implement her graphic design classes wherever she can.

“I think being a teacher would be a noble thing to go for,” Bell said. “I feel like I would have a real purpose.”

Her most recent projects have been inspired by ancient art. She created projects based off of cave paintings, trying to get the realistic texture of rock through wooden boards and emulate other kinds of drawings.

“Everyone is an artist in some way or form,” Bell said. “Humming under your breath, writing a poem, saying something kind, even speaking is a form of art. Take what you are good at and turn it into something greater than it is now.”

For more information on viewing the gallery, call Kaw River Rustics at (785) 207-7858.