Allen Long Biography
Allen Long is one of the best known traditional Cherokee mask makers and was the subject of museum exhibitions in North Carolina (Fariello, 2013). Long was born in 1917 in the Big Cove community of Cherokee, North Carolina and was a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Under the tutelage of his father, medicine man and artist Will West Long, Allen began carving masks at age 12. Allen's primary artistic focus was masks used in social and ritual dances. According to Fariello, a scholar of Cherokee art, by the mid 1970s Allen Long was considered by many to be "the last surviving link to what was once a viable art form, now in danger of becoming extinct."
Allen Long was famous for his practice of a traditional art form, but Long also was known for making improvements on certain aspects of Cherokee mask making by using modern materials. Long replaced clay and wild root dyes, which were used to stain masks, with more permanent materials such as shoe polish. Long carved his masks using a chisel and a pocketknife, the latter which he used for fine details. He worked mostly with buckeye wood, but also used animal fur and wasp nests for his masks. Long was best known for his booger and animal masks and won several awards throughout his lifetime.