Revere resident Brian Harkins unveiled his large “Who I Wear A Mask For Revere” banner on March 3 at the William Reinstein Bandstand on Revere Beach. Harkins, recognized as the artist “Nyx Breen,” said the banner was part of “an interactive art-centric piece that allowed people to express who they wear a mask for.”
Harkins said at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was much “divisiveness” over the issue of wearing masks.
“I was talking with someone and asked him if he would write the name of the person for whom he was wearing the mask,” related Harkins. “Later I saw the person and he had written the name on the front of the mask and it made me think, ‘this is something [artistic], I might be able to do’.”
Harkins drew upon his vast experience as a photographer, artist, and virtual platform creator for 30-plus years before launching his COVID-19 mask awareness project.
Harkins said he was able to get a wide range of people in Revere to participate in the project, including many first responders.
“I got about 150 images. It took about a month to do it. I put the images on a banner, had the banner printed up and reached out to [Project Manager] Elle Baker and we agreed that the Bandstand would be an ideal spot because that’s where I really shot 90 percent of the images.”
In compiling his images for the banner, Harkins said “a lot of people” told him that they were wearing their masks for members of their family, with the most popular response being, “my mother.”
A 1973 graduate of Revere High School, Harkins has been nominated for a position on the newly formed Revere Public Art Commission. “I was part of one of the last classes to graduate from the old Revere High School,” said Harkins.