In one week, the quiet rumors of COVID-19 circulating the UA Little Rock campus went from absent-minded conversations of all the possible outcomes to a declaration of a fully online semester. As the frigid spring months waned into hazy summer afternoons, the CDC’s new recommendations for facial coverings in public areas ensued. While some have not been receptive to this notion, people like Don Bolinger, a staff member of the Theater Arts and Dance department, decided to embrace face masks and place their own creative spin on it.
“The face mask line started when the previous chair of the department [asked], ‘Why don’t you build face masks for our department?’” Bolinger said. “We weren’t producing anything, as I had nothing to build. This launched me into a big search online to see the different styles and how people were approaching it.”
Even though he had originally been asked to look into a face mask line by the previous Theater Arts and Dance department chair, it was Bolinger’s creativity and hard work that made the masks popular.
“I tried out probably 25 different face mask patterns. I settled on two or three that I liked that was easy to put together,” Bolinger said.
Bolinger had made enough masks for his department and friends but managed to have some leftovers.
“Some of the ones I have built I have donated to charity,” Bolinger said.
Not only has Bolinger made face masks to encourage more people to wear them, but he has made seasonal masks as well.
“I’m still looking at new and different ones, the latest one is a scarf mask,” Bolinger said. “It is attached to something larger so that in the winter, it’s easy to take off and let it hang around your neck.”
While Bolinger made the masks to normalize having to wear one, he wanted to add some fun to it as well.
“Part of it is to lift our spirits. I chose some fabrics with humor, like lips, sleeping, Halloween, and Christmas things to brighten people’s day. Another thing is to try and establish a new normal for ourselves.”
Even though COVID-19 has placed us in a time struggle and fear, Bolinger has tried to make the situation more bearable.
“[COVID-19] won’t be here forever, but it’s gonna be here long enough, that we might as well keep it from being so gloom and doom all the time. We have to raise our own spirits, and it’s up to us to be positive and look forward to the future.”