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Animation of Masks in Illinois & Iowa Museums and Centers; "Halloween Flight" Exhibit

October 18, 2010

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MACOMB, IL – Costumes, trick or treat, candy, scary stories and a (g)host of other ghoulish events typically occur over the Halloween weekend. This year, in five Illinois and Iowa communities, there's even more otherworld wonderment, when a projected animation of masks will be displayed at – and on – several museums and centers.

"Vultus" is the name of the exhibition produced by Quad City native Bruce Walters, who is an art professor at Western Illinois University.

"I tried to create a sense of the persistence of a single face through all of the masks," Walters said. "I selected the Latin word 'Vultus' as its title because it means both 'face' and 'faces' – transcendentally singular and plural."

The animation is a perpetually running video of 100 masks. Many of the masks are specific to Halloween; but many African, Asian and Native American cultural masks are also included in the loop, Walters explained. Artists who created sculptured faces and masks included in this project are WIU alumni Skip Willits (B.A.-Art, 1978) and Donnie Gettinger (B.F.A.-Art, Spring 2010). The video includes masks of the 2006 Grammy Award-winning band Slipknot, photographed by Shawn Crahan, a member of the Iowa band that won the Grammy for Best Metal Performance.

Masks used in the video were also provided by WIU Art Professor Emeritus Sam Parker and retired communication faculty member Rebecca "Becky" Parker, as well as Western's Assistant Professor of Graphic Design Terry Rathje.

The animation of masks will be projected 50-feet in height on the exterior of the Figge Art Museum, 225 West Second Street, Davenport (IA), from 6-11 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 28 and from 6-8 p.m. on Halloween (Sunday, Oct. 31).

Other sites and times for the animation of masks are:
IOWA CITY, IAUnited Action for Youth Center–Exterior, 355 Iowa Ave.
Time: dusk to dawn, Friday, Oct. 29-Halloween (Oct. 31).

MACOMB, IL – West Central Illinois Art Center, 25 East Side Square.
Time: dusk to dawn, Thursday-Saturday, Oct. 21-23 and Oct. 28-30.

PEORIA, IL Contemporary Art Center of Peoria, 305 Southwest Water Street.
Time: 7-9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 29

ROCK ISLAND, IL Quad City Arts Center, 1715 2nd Avenue.
Time: 6-9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 29.

Walters' "Vultus" project received funding, in part, through an artist grant from the Iowa Arts Council.

Concurrently, Walters has the solo art exhibition, "Halloween Flight," at the Quad City Arts Center until Nov. 17. The exhibition, which he debuted in Fall 2009 at WIU, is also online at

There will be a "sneak peak" of the exhibit from 7-9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 28, followed by a 7-9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 29 reception for "Halloween Flight" at the Quad City Arts Center Gallery.

"In this exhibition, I have focused on exploring Halloween as the surviving link to ancient harvest celebrations and traditions of remembering the dead that reach back millennia. I have tried to capture a sense of its mystery and eeriness," said Walters in his artist's statement. "Initially, I worked on two series of drawings: 'Halloween Flight,' a cyclical story that begins on Halloween evening, and 'Changelings.'

"In Irish folklore, changelings are substitutes for children stolen by the fairies. In this series, the persona of masks and costumes replace or reveal the people underneath. The latest projects include two 15-foot sentry paintings that were originally meant to flank the gallery entrance, and 'Vultus,' the current animation of masks exhibit. In addition, I worked in a wide range of digital imagery – including digital paintings, lenticular prints (that create an illusion of motion and depth as one walks past), animations and building projections," he added.

His artwork has been displayed in more than 100 solo, invitational and competitive exhibitions, primarily in the Midwest, but also in England, Germany, Japan, New York and Washington, D.C. He was won best of show in seven different media, from graphite drawings to digital artwork.

Walters joined the WIU art faculty in 1997. Previously, he taught art and graphics communication (1984-1997) at Marycrest International University (Davenport, IA), and was chair of the Communications, Fine and Performing Arts Division (1991-1997).

He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree (1977) from the University of Iowa and his Master of Fine Arts and Master of Arts degrees (1984) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Walters' website is at

For more information, contact Walters at

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