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Anna Coleman Watts Ladd

Artist 11 Anna Coleman Watts Ladd Studio for Portrait-Masks

Anna Coleman Watts was an American Portrait and architectural sculptor.

She studied with Bela Pratt for three years at the Boston Museum School. She specialized in portraiture.

In late 1917, she moved to France with her husband, Dr. Maynard Ladd, who was appointed to direct the Children's Bureau of the American Red Cross in Toul.

It was at this time she was introduced to the work of Francis Derwent Wood in the Masks for Facial Disfigurement Department in Paris.

After meeting with Wood, Ladd founded the American Red Cross "Studio for Portrait-Masks" to provide cosmetic masks to be worn by men who had been badly disfigured in World War I.

Her services earned her the Légion d'Honneur Croix de Chevalier and the Serbian Order of Saint Sava.

This studio of Portrait Masks will be my focus today.

Ladd’s Studio for Portrait-Masks changed soldiers lives. These soldiers were called mutilés and some so badly disfigured they couldn’t be recognized. It’s hard for me to imagine a world where there was little to no plastic surgery. It’s was 101 years ago.

The portrait masks Ladd created served a practical function in helping these soldiers feel comfortable in public. In times of war she utilized her talent to help people. I think it’s inspiring to see what you can do with art if you think outside of the box.

The last two days artists have focused on how artists deal with atrocities of war. Art is a part of being human and it helps us grieve, and deal with our emotions.

These masks did not fix the soldiers but it did help their self esteem, allow them to walk through the street without glances and stares. That holds a lot of power in my opinion.

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