David Knezz had long been involved in theater as an actor and drama teacher when he began making masks several years ago. He started doing it seriously after being part of a production crew filming a woman “who was teaching corporate executives how to free their bodies and have more expressive personalities,” Knezz says. “She was using character masks. I remember thinking, this is so interesting. It blew me out of the water.”

The woman hired him to repair the masks she had, then to make more, and “she said the prophetic words, you’re a good mask maker, you should do this. So I started making them.”

Knezz sculpts faces out of clay and then uses those to make plaster molds, from which he can make up to 100 neoprene latex masks. “I don’t make any Halloween masks; they’re expressive masks mainly,” he says.

In addition to selling the masks, Knezz uses them in his teaching, inspired by French actor, mime, and teacher Jacques Pierre Lecoq. “Lecoq wanted to teach his actors how to have more stage presence, and realized they were always making faces,” Knezz says. “How do you train actors to have more expressive bodies? If you put a mask on the face, you have to do something with your body because your face is covered.”

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