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Artist Biography of Niger RPCV Lindsay Rust
Artist Biography of Niger RPCV Lindsay Rust
Lindsay Rust is an artist whose work is inspired by three primary ideas: beauty, human history, and dreams. She is a maskmaker and theatrical designer. She also illustrates, paints murals, writes, performs, and teaches. For the past several years, however, masks have captivated most of her imagination, time, and energy. Her mask work has drawn the attention of many admirers. Most significantly, the Discovery Channel featured Rust's masks in a 15-minute segment on the Lynette Jennings Design series. Lynette interviewed Rust in her Mission Canyon treehouse studio while Rust demonstrated her unique approach to mask making.
Art/beauty making has been a near obsession of Rust's for most of her life. As a young child she was an avid drawer and painter, studying oil painting from a renowned artist in her small hometown of Greensburg, Indiana. Her studies eventually took her to Northwestern University, where she earned two degrees, one in Art Theory and Practice, and the other in Anthropology. These areas of study are a perfect match for a mask maker - combining the practical knowledge of how to make things and make them beautiful with an interest in researching art history and ritual traditions of the world.
During college, her interest in art making and art history took her to the Mediterranean. She studied and traveled throughout the Italian peninsula and the Greek isles, keeping elaborate watercolor sketchbook journals along the way.
After college, Rust was thirsty for more international experience and signed up with the Peace Corps. As luck would have it, she was sent to Niger, West Africa - the one country on the continent revered for its exquisite silversmithing tradition. After serving as a community development agent for 1 1/2 years in a Songhai-Djerma village on the banks of the Niger River she moved to the capital city, Niamey. She became friends with a master silversmith named BŽbŽ and began an apprenticeship with him at the National Museum Artisan Workshop. In the five months she spent there, she learned to make jewelry and metal sculptures as they have been made in this region of Africa for hundreds of years, using traditional materials, local metals, and handmade tools. While in Niamey, Rust also studied with a Guinean maskmaker who taught her the basics of wood sculpting in ebony and mahogany.
After the Peace Corps, Rust continued her African travels, visiting Benin, Togo, Ghana, Guinea, and Burkina Faso. Mask shops in the capital cities of these countries became sources of endless fascination and Rust would spend afternoons sifting through the piles of masks available for sale, talking with the shopkeepers about their origins and symbolism.
Departing West Africa, Rust traveled to Morocco, Spain, and back to Italy, where she rented an apartment for two months to draw, paint, and write about her travels. Returning to the US, Rust settled in Santa Barbara, where she quickly took a job with the Summer Solstice Parade. It was there that Rust started making masks in earnest. The first mask that she finished so impressed the artistic Director that she immediately enlisted Rust to design more masks for the parade. The three masks that she made lead the parade that year.
Rust's Solstice masks attracted the attention of Boxtales Theatre Company - a local storytelling troupe based out of the Lobero Theatre. Soon the group was commissioning Rust to design entire shows for them. The rigorous demands of their performance schedule, which takes them to hundreds of venues per year, demanded that Rust develop her own, unique method for creating extremely strong, lightweight masks.
She has also worked with the Santa Barbara Baroque Dance Company, freelance photographers, and numerous small theatre troupes.
Most recently, Rust has been designing masks for Dancing Drum Productions, a music/theatre troupe that performs original stories based around African drumming. She also performs with Dancing Drum.
Rust's future plans include both travel and art. Sometime in the next year, Rust hopes to be studying leather maskmaking in Italy. Also on the horizon is a trip down the Niger River with her new husband, drummer Steve Campbell.
Please contact Lindsay at 805.682.8250 or email email@example.com.