Aggravated Organizms



"Aggravated Organizms" is a collection of 3ftX5ft masks carved by Drew Michael and painted by Elizabeth Ellis.  Each piece is a representation of one of the top ten diseases affecting Alaskan communities.  The magnified masks explore how all living organisms are composed of cells and sometimes these bodies of cells are overtaken by the complexities of life.  This merging of science, health, and art is a powerful expression of ideas and topics that need to be explored in creative ways.


Part of the engagement process for this project is about connecting people to topics through art.  During the 3.5 years, spanning from May 7th, 2013 - October 1, 2017, these masks representing 10 diseases within our communities across Alaska and the lower 48 We have opened up the opportunity for people affected by any one of these particular diseases to sign the backs of the masks themselves.


Drew Michael and Elizabeth Ellis sitting with Aggravated Organizms opening night June 21st, 2013. Photo by Douglas Reynolds.


A preview of Aggravated Organizms, by Elizabeth Ellis and Drew Michael.

Opens Friday June 21st, 2013 at Out North Contemporary Art House

Video by Joshua Loweman


Elizabeth Ellis and Drew Michael in the finishing touches to the first of ten large scale masks were built. May 2013.

Elizabeth Ellis and Drew Michael working on large scale masks for their opening show of Aggravated Organizms 2013. Photo by Loren Holmes

Cancer Masks in process. Photo by Drew Michael

Influenza Masks just on opening day in the Out North Gallery on June 21st, 2013. Photo by Douglas Reynolds.

Cancer Mask on first test of metal stands. Fabrication by H&K Sheetmetal inc. 2013

Drew Michael working on the Aggravated Organizms Arthritis mask before it had burning ascents added. Photo by Loren Holmes 2013

Elizabeth Ellis painting Fetal Alcohol Syndrome mask 2013. Photo by Loren Homes

Drew Michael while building HIV, one of ten Aggravated Organzims masks in the spring of 2013. Photo by Katie Baldwin.

Process for transforming the masks in fire at the Anchorage Museum.