When staffers at the Baton Rouge Gallery wondered how they could keep the facility going and help its artist members during the coronavirus pandemic, the answer was as plain as the masks on their faces.

Masks are becoming more than just protective face coverings. Some use them to express their fashion, others for a political statement.

So why not as a canvas for art?

"We were thinking about ways we could keep the gallery going and continue offering our programs while keeping everything in place," said Jason Andreasen, executive director. "We also wanted a way to help our artists members whose lives have been impacted by COVID, because they weren't able to exhibit their work.

"We reached out to our artist members, and they were all enthusiastic about the idea. Then we selected the pieces from the artists' work that we thought would transfer well on a mask."

Art from each of the gallery's 65 members is featured on a mask, which offer triple-layer protection with quilted, breathable fabric that can be machine washed and a fit that contours to your face.

The masks are $25, a portion of which goes directly to the artist whose work is featured on the mask. For an additional $15, you can send a mask to a first responder. The masks will be shipped or can be picked up at the gallery.

"Each mask is handmade, and though we have some at the gallery, some orders may take up to 14 days, because we have to order them from the manufacturer," said Andreasen, noting the masks are being made in London.

Andreasen said the masks not only are a way to support local art but are good conversation starters. And if you opt to pick up your masks, you can take in the gallery's artist member exhibition.    

"Each mask helps support local and regional artists, as well as an organization that has been supporting local artists like them for more than 50 years," Andreasen said. "So far, the response has been great. We've already had well over 200 masks purchased, and knowing that masks are important in slowing COVID, our artists are excited to be a part of it."

To see the mask designs and place an order, visit batonrougegallery.org/brg-masks. For more information, call (225) 383-1470.

Email Robin Miller at romiller@theadvocate.com