PEORIA, Ill.– After spending 42 years teaching local youth about art mediums and black history, 78-year-old Donald Mason found a new way to challenge individuality.
Before retiring, he taught in Peoria’s District 150, teaching students how to mix media with painting and sculpturing. Mason said he helped students overcome challenges by expressing themselves through art.
“As a reluctant person, the last person to ever become a teacher, that was me. And mainly because I saw myself in the kids,” he said.
Mason said he enjoys using different mediums to convey his thoughts. Most of his artwork provides insight about psychological and spiritual catharsis.
“The way it is all put together, the large figures, sometimes larger than life contrasted against a flat pattern design will hopefully, at a distance, [make] you see something here,” he said. “And hopefully when you see it, you can’t unsee it. It’s just stay with you forever.”
Mason’s Double Consciousness Exhibit can be seen at the Contemporary Art Center of Peoria. This collection portrays Mason’s childhood struggles with economic and social disparity between races.
Mason said his artwork was influenced at 14 by the lynching of Emmett Till in 1955. He said Till’s death still bothers him today because they both would have been 78-years-old.
Mason’s work will be displayed at the art center through August 30.