Facing Life’s Barriers

Masks and colorful paint adorn a large sign posted at Point Dume Plaza Shopping Center, part of an art project from the fifth graders at Malibu Elementary School.

For the past year, face masks have been used by the general public for protection against COVID-19. Not only have they provided protection to the wearer—but also, according to 17-year-old Malibuite Bridget Kennedy-Bailey, they have become a sign of strength and vigilance.

Kennedy-Bailey, a Crossroads School For Arts and Science senior and 2015 Point Dume Elementary graduate, collaborated with Malibu Elementary School teacher Nancy Levy’s fifth grade class in an art installation using face masks as canvases.

“My whole life I have really enjoyed art and so I thought the art project was a fun way to do that and make people happy when they see it at the Point Dume Plaza,” Kennedy-Bailey said. “It also felt like a fun way to work with the kids and have them all work together to be part of something larger for the community.”

Kennedy-Bailey said when she brought up the idea to the class, the students were excited about contributing. 

“When I told them that it was going up at the plaza, they were so mind blown and excited that their art would be up in a public place,” Kennedy-Bailey said. “So, that was really fun to work with them.” 

Kennedy-Bailey attended Point Dume Elementary School—the site of the current Malibu Elementary—and although it felt like a small community, she gained lifelong friends.

“I have a lot of friends who live really close to me, but I don’t get to see them as often as I’d like because they don’t go to the same school as I do,” Kennedy-Bailey said. “We were all doing online school, which is kind of where the idea came from originally after spending time with people in my community whom I hadn’t seen in a while.”

Kennedy-Bailey said the pandemic was a huge hurdle, but it brought her family closer together. “My family went into extreme lockdown; we  pretty much didn’t leave the house,” Kennedy-Bailey said. “Two of my cousins came and stayed with us and we got closer as a family, so I’m really thankful for my experience through it.”

Kennedy-Bailey said she reached out to the landlords of the plaza to organize the art installation during summer and wanted to include the elementary school students.

 “I feel like the elementary schoolers had a really hard time because that’s such an important period of your life and your mental growth, especially with social settings and not being an in-person school,” Kennedy-Bailey said. “So I was just thinking about a way to combine my love for my community and art and just sort of bring people together after a long period of being apart. I feel like it’s just a nice little reminder that we’re all supporting each other during tough times.”

The art installation is currently on display at the Point Dume Plaza.