Original Sold

Play Mihself

A woman so in love with Carnival that she travels to Trinidad every year to play mas’


The original is sold but click the link below to
Buy Play Mihself merchandise from By Leigh’s Teepublic Shop


Play Mihself was a house warming gift from one cousin to another.

The client had bought Play Yuhself (a piece inspired by Two Dancers, a Matisse Cutout) a few years back and had it proudly displayed in her home in Trinidad & Tobago. When her cousin, who lives in New York visited and saw the painting, she fell in love with it. So my client waited for the perfect opportunity to give her something similar but even more special – a Life Stort Art piece in the style of Play Yuhself. This is how Play Mihself was born.

My client decided the painting wouldn’t be a surprise. She told her cousin and put us in touch so I could ask the intended recipient of the painting (let’s call her J) all the questions I needed to craft her story on canvas.

The story we told spanned years.

J loved Carnival in Trinidad & Tobago. Since she was a little girl, she’d been playing mas. J pilgrimaged from New York City to Trindad & Tobago every year to play mas.

Mas is the short for Masquerade and “to play mas” in Trinidad & Tobago is to choose a Carnival band to parade, dance, jump, gyrate and revel in the streets to sweet soca music alongside other costumed masqueraders.

This painting is an ode to J’s love for Carnival. It maps every costume and band she has played in from childhood. It captures the main lyrics from some of her favourite soca jams, logos of her favourite Carnival band, and symbols of all the key elements of her annual carnival experience.

Maybe we should have called it “For the love of Carnival” but we have a saying in the Caribbean – “lemme play mihself”. This should not be confused with “playing myself” or “I played myself”. Totally different meaning. The Caribbean “play mihself” means to just enjoy yourself or to revel in being yourself, usually while you have the chance. [Read: Carnival is only 2 days, I plan to do it all and have a grand old time while I can!]

Which is why the painting is called Play Mihself, because that is what J does at every Carnival. It was absolutely about her need to spend 2 days in costume feeling absolutely free to revel in the heat of the sun, the energy of her people, the beauty of the mas, the joy of being with friends, the strength of her body, and the rhythm of the music. This painting is every year of J playing herself with joyful abandon.

What would your story look like?

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Copyright 2016 Stacey Leigh Ross