When Raleigh artist Cameron Laws sat down with a stack of LPs, a pair of scissors and a pile of magazine clippings, she wasn’t sure if she was suffering a stroke of genius or if the coronavirus cabin fever had finally gotten to her.

“I was like, ‘am I losing it?’ I’m still not sure,” Laws chuckles.

Laws works as the program director for Raleigh’s nonprofit arts and culture hub Artsplosure.

A couple of weeks ago, she woke up wanting to listen to Willie Nelson’s The Red-Headed Stranger. It was April 29—Nelson’s birthday, which, as a music nerd, Laws knew. As she gazed at the folk singer’s sepia album portrait, an idea popped into her head. She folded up a bit of paper and placed it over Nelson’s mouth. 

 Laws says that she immediately thought, “I could do this with all my albums.” 

What started as a quarantine lark quickly evolved into a community-driven art project on Instagram dubbed @ppemylp. So far, Laws has done the album masking for about half of the account’s 36 posts herself; the rest have been submitted by other folks hoping to show off their doctored album collections. She has a backlog of entries waiting to be posted. 

I couldn’t help myself. I nearly ran to my record shelf and started leafing through familiar faces—The Beatles, BB King, Johnny Cash, Carole King. And then…I saw the one.

Madonna: The original Material Girl. I placed my blue mask below Madonna’s smoldering gaze with the caption “Gentleman prefer Material Girls.” 

“Especially,” Laws comments on my post with a series of fire emojis, “Those medical grade material” 

I slid into her DMs, as journalists do, and, about an hour later, Laws called me from her car, where she said she was sitting beside a stack of freshly-purchased records from Nice Price on Hillsborough Street. 

For a second, I told her, I’d forgotten the monotony of stress and boredom brought on by weeks of social isolation. For a second, I actually wanted to do something. I smiled and I made something, and not just that, it was something that tied something that I’d always loved with our current reality. And it only took less than a minute. 

Some people have taken to photo-shopping masks onto their favorite artists, while others have gone the collage route pioneered by Cameron. One post features a folded bandana.

“Everyone has kind of gone about it differently,” Laws said. “There’s all these kinds of creative, artistic choices layering on top of each other. I feel like I can see a little bit of everyone’s personality from these submissions.”

I ask her what she saw from mine. She laughed. 

“I was like Madonna! How do I not have a Madonna record on here now?” Laws said. 

She hopes the project not only reminds people to cover their faces in public, but helps promote local artists and record shops. 

“I think its also important to find some comedic relief, as we’re all stuck in our houses,” Laws said. “I really love that this has become a big collective and community project.”

To participate, just post an album with a facial covering of your design to Instagram and share it with Laws @ppemylp. 

Contact Raleigh news editor Leigh Tauss at ltauss@indyweek.com.

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