After serving in the U. S. Navy, American author, playwright, and actor James Leo Herlihy (1927-1993) used the benefits earned through the G.I. Bill to attend Black Mountain College in North Carolina. In 1947 and 1948, while at Black Mountain, Herlihy studied literature, music, and art (particularly sculpture), with faculty who included M. C. Richards, Merce Cunningham, Anais Nin, John Cage, and William De Kooning. Shown below is a life mask of Herlihy’s face.
The mask, which measures 11″ x 6″ x 6″, is constructed of plaster, with a painted finish. Herlihy signed the verso of the mask in red and carved “James” into the plaster.
This mask is part of a collection of letters and postcards written by Herlihy to his friend Edward P. Mitchell, which also includes a second piece of sculpture created by Herlihy. The collection was a gift to the library from Edward P. Mitchell.