Meet Emily Fleming, the Face Behind “Masks of MC”/by Morgan Miller

If you’ve scrolled through any of Mississippi College’s social media accounts within the past months, there’s a good chance you’ve seen a particular image pop up, perhaps more than once.

It’s an image that contains members of the student body masked up in traditional and non-traditional ways, given life through the type of art that pencils and high-quality markers provide. The faces you see gleam with vitality and color, all of which are bright spots in a world that has known more of harshness and despondency in recent memory. They are drawn with eagle-eyed detail and measured carefulness, allowing viewers to glimpse the dedication of the artist behind them, Emily Fleming.

         A junior graphic design major from Olive Branch, Miss., Emily has already completed two full “Masks of MC” pages and is currently working on a third. Her work has been featured on several MC social media posts, and it will also be included in the upcoming yearbook. Those who wish to be featured need only DM Emily on Instagram with a picture of themselves wearing their masks in any sort of fashion. Then, she draws those images in her sketchbook until the white space is gradually replaced with the lively representations of MC’s student body and the masks they wear.

         When asked where the idea for “Masks of MC” came from, Emily says, “It was sort of like a God thing. One day, I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if I did that?’ And then, I had to do it. I didn’t have to speculate. It just seemed like a thing I had to do because right now is the only opportunity to do it. It’s not a thing that you’re trying to capitalize off of, but with everything that’s going on, this is the only time I could do something like this.”

         The response to her work has been overwhelmingly positive and enthusiastic, something that Emily says she is very happy about. However, it is more than just happiness that she seeks to accomplish with this project.

         “I wanted to document this in a fun way,” Emily says, referencing the pandemic. “It addresses what’s going on, but it doesn’t get into the nitty-gritty sad parts of it. Things have been weird and bad for people, but I want people to come away with a positive outlook. We’re in a pandemic, and it’s affecting everyone, so it’s not very personal. Bad things happen to you because of the pandemic, but it’s not aimed at you. In the grand scheme of things, you’re being washed away by something big. Me personally, I’m just a grain of sand washed away by a tsunami. But I like the idea that with “Masks of MC,” you can kind of become important. I spend two to four hours drawing your face, and now you have something that makes you a part of something. I like the ease of someone sending me their picture, drawing them, and letting them be a part of it all.”

         “Masks of MC” is a matter of giving a personal touch to a time that has been impersonal to us all, and Emily has undoubtedly brought sparks of joy to MC’s campus with her artwork. It documents the moment in a way that is representative of the way we smile and continue on in the face of it all.

         “Everybody seems to enjoy it,” Emily says. “So I keep on wanting to do it!”

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