BC Mural Project Winner Spotlight: Marla Mason

Marla Mason // Bellevue College.

Our second featured artist, known as one of the winners of BC’s Outdoor Mural Project, is Marla Mason!

Marla Mason — “Rebuild”

Bio: Over the course of my professional life, [I] have been a minister, a social worker, and an adult learning professional and now, at 63 years old, I am returning to school yet again. Education has been one of my greatest rebuilding strategies. I’ve returned to school four times over the course of my adult life, using the new knowledge and skills and community I find there to strengthen my sense of worth and possibility while I sort through the dark places and find their gifts.

I am new to expressing myself through art, and have returned to school this time around to learn more about myself as a creative being. I’m grateful to be learning the skills and expressing the gifts fostered by my art classes at Bellevue College — I’ve taken two classes and am looking forward to many more. In the mid-place of a powerful life transition, I am not yet clear about my goals, other than to continue to learn and to be as present to life as possible.

I’m married to a beautiful woman and we have two cats and one dog. These are the greatest gifts in my life.

Mason’s Artist Statement: I have sometimes felt deeply broken by life. Each time, I rebuild, and I rebuild stronger and more resilient.

Part of rebuilding for me has included coming to understand that the dynamics of skin color, culture, religion and gender had been at play, overtly and covertly, throughout my life — the context of both my breaking and my rebuilding. Critically examining my cultural and familial background, my assumptions and my own relative privilege, I’ve had to address my fears and anger at the cultural lies and limitations I’ve experienced as a cisgender woman and a lesbian. I’ve had to acknowledge my own racism and my frequent blindness to the segments of privilege I do experience in our culture. I’ve had to be willing to be uncomfortable and to be diligent — because forgetting is so easy.

When I first heard these words spoken by Hannah Gadsby: “There is nothing stronger than a broken woman who has rebuilt herself,” I felt affirmed, for both my brokenness and my strength. I understood her to say that not only can I rebuild — in spite of the context — the gift of rebuilding is greater strength, deeper understanding and a chance to make the world a better place not just for me, but for everyone.

By recreating Gadsby’s words as art, I hope to give that same sense of affirmation and inspiration to any woman who is in the dark place now — you are not alone and you have powerful examples of success. If you are feeling hopeless, let this message inspire you to disregard seeming barriers and limitations. Let it strengthen your resolve to rebuild stronger. Let it inspire you to reach out, to ask for help, to remember that you are courting emotional and spiritual depth, that rebuilding is a process that has no particular endpoint but many gifts. Let it remind you that creating a better world for everyone starts within each one of us.

I also hope to inspire greater commitment in our institutions to provide equitable access to resources for all women, and for all people, regardless of who they are or where they come from. No one does anything important alone, so let’s be about creating structures that support one another. Together, we can nurture the spirit of transformation that creates a future we can all believe in.