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Self-Portrait Masks made by Miya Turnbull

Miya (pronounced Mee-yah) Turnbull is an artist based in Kjipuktuk (Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada).

I work in many mediums including mask-making, photography, animation, video, performance, painting and textiles. This website will focus in on my current body of work with Self-Portrait Masks, Photography, Performance and Video. 


(A quick note about my online shop ( I have closed down since it was expensive to maintain and I'm focusing more on my mask work right now- I still have textile work and paintings in stock. If you saw something you wanted to purchase, just get in touch.) 

About my masks: 

"My masks are three-dimensional self-portraits- a combination of photography, sculpture and collage. They are photo-realistic but often altered- for example, I might change the placement or even erase select facial features, or cut up and re-attach masks together in unusual combinations. I use photo elements within my work to create an uncanny resemblance within my masks, in addition to capturing images of myself wearing these facades.


I am drawing from the traditional uses of masks worn for disguise, transformation and protection, and as symbols for persona, self-image and identity. Ironically, I am placing my face on the front of the mask at the same time concealing my 'self' behind it. I can then manipulate how you see me. By keeping my image a constant, I am able to experiment with multiple iterations and further explore my heritage, experiences, perceptions and inner world, making these visible, tangible and wearable."

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I'm super excited to hold an Origami paper-folding workshop as part of my solo exhibition "Inward, Outwards", featuring over 100 self-portrait masks, sculptures, origami, photographs and video. Come chat with me about my artwork if you missed my artist talk in Novemeber and learn some unusual Origami designs that are a combination of traditional designs and self-portraits. 


All ages welcome (young children might require parental assistance). No experience necessary. Workshop is free (donations gratefully accepted by the gallery) and Origami creations are yours to keep. 


Please note that Masks are required on campus and in the gallery. 

Update: Workshops are now full

Miya Turnbull: Inward, Outwards
Solo Exhibition

Acadia University Art Gallery
Wolfville, NS

Nov 12th - Feb 7th

(closed over university break Dec 10th-Jan 9th)

Curated by Dr. Laurie Dalton


Gallery hours: 

Monday: Closed

Tuesday:  12pm -4pm

Wednesday: 12pm -7pm

Thursday- Sunday: 12pm -4pm

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Visual Arts News, Volume 44, Number 2, Fall 2022

So honoured to have my artwork on the cover of the latest issue of Visual Arts News, a magazine that explores contemporary art practices in Atlantic Canada, on the unceded and unsurrendered lands of the Beothuk, Mi’kmaq, Wolastoqiyik, Inuit, Innu, and the Southern Inuit of NunatuKavut.

A beautiful article written by Clare Goulet, a local writer, poet and educator, is published on pages 21-25. You can read the article here and the magazine is now available for purchase

Halifax Photoshoot: Self-Portrait Masks

Miya would like to acknowledge the support of Arts Nova Scotia. A huge thank you to Tanya Canam for her beautiful photography and help with this ambitious project (and this awesome gif!!) Thank you to Branislav Zvada for capturing the magic through video and amazing editing skills (and also some of the photos above are still frames from his video work).  Thank you to all the participants who came to Point Pleasant Park- both for my 'trial run' and the big photoshoot!

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Yume. Digital Dreams
Feb-May, 2022

14 artists were selected from the Japanese Canadian Artist's Directory, ranging in ages, mediums and locations: Baco Ohama + Jon Sasaki, Kayla Isomura + Dawn Obokata, Linda Uyehara Hoffman + Kunji Ikeda, Michael Fukushima + Lillian Blakey, Teiya Kasahara + Noriko K. Kobayashi, Shion Skye Carter + Miya Turnbull, Will Shintani + Hitoshi Sugiyama. 


We have been collaborating in pairs this past Spring, creating new digital pieces, presented and organized by Tashme Productions (Matt Miwa and Julie Tamiko Manning) and supported financially by the Canada Council for the Arts.

Our online Vernissage showing the results of our collaborations was showcased May 16th, 2022 with a short Q&A with the artists afterwards and is now archived: YouTube and on the website: Yume. Digital Dreams.

Also screened at:

 46th Annual Powell Street Festival in Vancouver, B.C

Firehall Arts Centre, July 31st, 2022, 4:30-5:30pm PDT

and online at GEI: Japanese Canadian Artists Symposium held Sept 16-18th in Victoria, B.C.

Read about the project in The Bulletin/Geppo (Feb 2022) and Discover Nikkei (April 2022) with interviews by Matt Miwa and Julie Tamiko Manning who made all this happen. 

A huge thanks to everyone working on this project, I was so proud to be included with all these amazing artists. I was so honoured to work alongside Shion. Here is our video: "Omote (面)" 

"Omote (面)" is an art/dance film conjured through the collaborative process between two Japanese Canadian artists:
Vancouver-based dance artist Shion Skye Carter, and Halifax-based mask artist Miya Turnbull.

The kanji symbol 面 can be translated as "Omote"- face, surface and also as "Men"- mask.

Hand-crafted papier-mâché masks, coming in myriad shapes and facial expressions, become extensions of the body in this work. The masks' distorted imagery borders on the grotesque, challenging traditional ideas of beauty, while gesture and tableaus articulate the concept of honne (本音) and tatemae (建前): when a person’s true feelings and desires (honne) contrasts from the behavior and opinions they share in public (tatemae). The masks also serve as tools to reflect on self identity, affected in part by the artists' shared mixed race Nikkei heritage. How do cultural expectations, and one’s ancestral history, influence the parts of ourselves that we express to the world, and the parts that we keep hidden away? 

Co-created and performed by Miya Turnbull and Shion Skye Carter
Masks by Miya Turnbull
​Music: Stefan Nazarevich (Vancouver, B.C.)

Shown at: 
Fashion for Bank Robbers exhibit in Munich, Germany


Aug 3rd- Oct 16th, 2022

FIN (Atlantic International Film Festival), in-person and streamed online

Cineplex Cinemas Park Lane, Theatre 8

Halifax, Nova Scotia

Sept 18th, 2022, 3:30 pm ADT

International Portrait Film Festival, based in Bulgaria

"For the peculiar-eyed Selection"

Online Nov 20th- 30th, 2022 through Festhome TV

and at Acadia University Art Gallery, Wolfville, NS as part of 

Miya's "Inward, Outwards" exhibit

I am really excited to announce we will be developing Omote (面) into a live performance, Spring 2023.

Shion and I were selected to be a part of the CanAsian Dance Kickstart Program. We will be working with Julie Tamiko Manning as our dramaturg and Stefan Nazarevich will be composing music for us. We will create the work in Halifax, thanks to a residency at Kinetic Studio.


Performances in Montreal are presented through Tangente and Festival Accès Asie:

May 6-9th, 2023



1435, De Bleury Street

Performances in Toronto are presented by CanAsian Dance Festival (KickStart Program):

May 12-14th, 2023

(Location: TBD)

CanAsian Dance KickStart program commissions Canadian choreographers and dance creators, challenging them to develop and perform a solo or duet work of 15 to 20 minutes that represents a significant new direction or constructive disruption to their approach to choreography. 


The KickStart program includes support through mentorship, dramaturgy, and professionally produced performances in Toronto and Montreal. 




Marbella Carlos, aka Joy Rider 

Katherine Ng 

Ashvini Sundaram & Yui Ugai 

Shion Skye Carter & Miya Turnbull

Behind the Mask: Miya Turnbull

Mini-doc showcasing my artwork, 3 min 37 sec.
Presented by Instagram's 
Fashion For Bank Robbers, January 2021.

The first of a series of videos about mask-makers from around the world, entitled:
Behind the Mask, launched on their new YouTube Channel.


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"Behind the Mask: Miya Turnbull" was an Official Documentary Selection, featured at the Mixed Asian Media Festival, September 15th-19th, 2021.

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"In-Between" was screened at Photophobia- Contemporary Moving Images Festival, Aug 2020 co-presented by Hamilton Artists Inc and the Art Gallery of Hamilton. It was also an Official New Media Selection, featured at the Mixed Asian Media Festival, September 15th-19th, 2021.

This video has been shown in several exhibits alongside my masks: at the Craig Gallery in Dartmouth, NS as part of a group exhibit entitled, "I am What I am" curated by Brandt Eisner, September 2020, and in July 2021 at a group exhibit with the same name, at the Ice House Gallery in Tatamagouche, NS. It was also on display at Gallery 101 in Ottawa, Ontario for an exhibit called "Behind Between Beyond", running from July-Aug 2021, and Eltuek Arts Centre (Sydney, NS) as part of my solo exhibit July-Sept 2022. 

4 of my masks travelled to France to be used in the short film: Nô Feminist
Directed by: Aï
ssa Maïga

Co-written by Aïssa Maïga and Boulomsouk Svadphaiphane
Produced by: Talents Adami Cinéma 2022 and De l’Autre Côté du Périph’
Premiered at the 75th International Cannes Film Festival, May 24th, 2022 and on France TV (2)

Viewable through Talents Adami Cinéma website (use password adami2022)

It was filmed in the theatre within the Familistère de Guise landmark, in France

Cast includes: Aksel Carrez, Coline Rage, Selena Diouf and Yoshi Oida

Beautiful costumes designed by Liputa Swagga



"Gloria, Lili and Amir only have a few days to master a Noh play. The troupe of actors must juggle between sexist remonstrances, text changes and strange noises that echo on the stage. But revelations about the famous director and author of the play will further upset the rehearsals."