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Clay artist Marie EvB Gibbons is already known for infusing some of her works with a droll creepiness that’s rather endearing. But the haunted masks in When your mouth is too small to scream in a dream, a solo show at the MacSpa, go a step further, by making it personal: Gibbons suffers from insomnia, and she created them as protection symbols.

Gibbons got the idea while doing an artist residency at Chatfield High School, where she led a senior class in an African mask project. “I had them make African-inspired masks based on some kind of personal ritual or protection symbol,” she explains. “And after that, I got off on my own assignment, and that’s how this body of work started.”

Every detail of the resulting pieces is fraught with symbolism: red berry-like forms connote sleep potions, gold ones sleep itself. Halos borrowed from religious icons, meanwhile, take on a more secular role. “I looked up the definition of 'halo' and found out that it’s an aura, something not defined as anything strictly religious,” she says. “The halo is an object that represents abstract ideas, and I thought of how sleep is sacred, especially when you can’t get any. So the halos reinforce my thinking about the sacredness of sleep.”

Gibbons’s masks, along with a series of framed Hamsa hands (another protection symbol), go on view tonight at the MacSpa, 1738 Wynkoop Street, during a reception from 6 to 9 p.m. that will also involve a kind of poetry scavenger hunt. The show stays up through the end of March. For more information, go to the Facebook event page or www.themacspa.com.
March 7-31, 2013

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