Merchant of Venice
All works including
artwork, masks and costume designs and text,
on this page and throughout this site are
by Ryl Mandus,
I had 'Attention Deficit / Hyperactive Disorder', and still have it to
a degree. Back then they didn't have a name or a kick-back drug for
it, so they just called me 'unruly' and 'stupid' because I was unable to
keep my mind on task (and little girls aren't supposed to be unruly, you
see). My rampant imagination was a wild horse and I was super-glued
to its back, with no choice but to go where ever it wanted to take me.
Later, as I grew, I developed some self-discipline and learned to focus
and concentrate on the tasks at hand.
During high school I attended a vocational school that was being offered,
after having enthusiastically quit the typing and home-ec classes that
my parents rather loudly insisted that I take, since I had neither desire
nor aptitude to be clerical or domestic. At this school I studied
photography, black and white darkroom work, and advertising layout and
Research have always been among my greater passions. History, mythology
and folklore of various cultures have all now become inextricably and fully
integrated parts of my personal 'data base'. The fantastic and the
surreal hold strong sway over nearly everything I do, whether it's prose,
fine art, or mask and costume design.
So by now my imagination is a powerful muscle that I exercise and wield
at my will. And though I have endured no formal art training, I
dislike the term 'self-taught' -- how can you 'teach' yourself what you
I obsess over the conversations between colors, and I trip out over textures,
contours and the powers of negative-versus-positive space.
I study art on my own and continue to loiter in museums to analyze palettes
and brush strokes, and I get "harumphed" at by museum guards who think
that maybe three inches between my nose and the painting behind the stanchions
is a little too close.
( did you know
that "harumph" in Danish sounds just like "harumph" in English?! )
about all those masks, . . .
A few years ago my sis-in-law gave me a lovely little wall-mask made of
leather, and I was instantly hooked. I didn't know any mask makers,
and at the time I couldn't find any books on the subject, so my only
recourse was to just buy some leather and start experimenting with it.
I gradually discovered what would and would not work and proceeded from
there, only to learn many years later that what I was doing was exactly
what the mask makers in Italy had been doing for centuries.
Sometimes the old ways are the best, even if you don't know they're the
Ryl Mandus, the Merchant of Venice
myself, as the Dame Phoenix Albastru