UPPER WEST SIDE, Manhattan — When Elizabeth Sobieski steps out into her Upper West Side neighborhood, it is never with just a plain cotton mask.
The writer stayed inside through half of March and all of April due to the coronavirus pandemic, but in May she emerged.
"I became this character, the 'Masked Hatter,' sort of a secret identity," she said.
She artfully combines distinct masks, hats and glasses to create characters or project a mood.
On New Year's Eve, her mask read, "Goodbye 2020, Hello 2021."
It's one of more than 100 combinations she has photographed of herself and posted on her Instagram account @themaskedhatter.
"This really started as entertainment for myself, a way of enjoying this terrible period we are in," she said.
And Sobieski's neighbors have noticed; they stop her on the street. Some of the photographs have appeared in galleries and art shows.
"One that gets a lot of attention is, 'Dr Fauci said so.' And people say, 'What did Dr. Fauci say?' He said, 'Wear a mask!" she noted.
Sobieski said this project has kept her occupied and engaged. It's made a solitary time, less lonely.
"It gives me something to look forward to on an almost a daily basis. Like what am I going to put on and where am I going to photograph it," she said.
The Masked Hatter said she will only retire, "When we are all vaccinated."