Lakea Shepard’s Powerful Mixed-Media Masks Interrogate Ideas about What It Means to Be Protected

When Lakea Shepard was growing up, her father impressed upon her the age-old maxim for dealing with aggressors: “Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words should never hurt you.”

The advice likely would’ve resonated more had she not been aware of the guns he kept in the house, which she was expressly forbidden to touch. This contradiction opened up questions about the meaning of protection, how it was to be brandished, and whom it was for.