“Play’s The Thing”: Mask Making and Authenticity

“Play’s The Thing”: Mask Making and Authenticity

Working with the fifth grade ethics class at the Silverlake Independent JCC was an opportunity to use the activity of mask making to explore identity, and the issue and challenge of authenticity.

We started with questions…

What does it really mean to be “authentic”?

Do we wear masks to hide or reveal our identities?

What purposes do masks serve?

We shared about why we might wear a literal or figurative mask, how masks can protect, fool, transform and create, how they can offer us means to explore our identities, perform and present, hide, share, and even become a tool of self-discovery.

We looked at samples of masks and books were on hand filled with images of masks from other countries, societies, cultures and his/herstories.

Fueled by this preparation, students sketched out ideas for their mask characters on paper with pencils and markers.

One later added this drawing to his mask…feeling that he had what he wanted!

Students then made the form, or structure of their masks, seeing how a two-dimensional piece of bright tagboard

can become a three-dimensional wearable piece!

They used the top and bottom areas of the mask for for beards, crowns, ears and hats.

Color choices were made…

Eye holes were cut.  Students worked in pairs to gently mark out where their real eyes were under the masks,

then adults punched a small hole through those marks, so that the students could use scissors and make their eyes any shape and size they chose. Some chose two shapes!

Students then developed their mask characters through embellishment with a range of materials!
They used feathers, “googly eyes”, markers, washi tape, pom poms, shoe laces, ribbon, pipe cleaners, beads and more…

This young artist cleverly used his glasses as part of his mask persona.

Here, a  single googly eyes is centered between two eye holes which bloom with washi tape petals and patterns.

This maker used a paper plate and wooden sticks to build out his half-mask.

A creative choice is made here by crisscrossing the purple feathers at the top.

Great us of lace at the bottom, and washi tape at the top of this creation!

As we donned our masks at the end of class, and gathered once again in a circle,

students had the opportunity to once again introduce themselves, and perform their mask characters…Or were they performing themselves?

Students left class masks on to share with family and friends.

Through the act of becoming someone or something else for a time, the hope is that they are empowered to become more themselves.

And have a blast in the process!



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Behind The Mask: Hand Building With Clay

Behind The Mask: Hand Building With Clay

I had the opportunity to teach “Hand Building With Clay” to students in grades K – 4 for the City of Santa Monica’s  CREST Enrichment program.

After learning the pinch pot, coil and slab techniques, students had the opportunity to use slabs (pancakes of gently flattened out clay) in a different way, by laying the slab of clay over a sort of armature of loosely balled up up newspaper, so that it would harden in a shallow bowl form, and create a mask.

As the forms dried, and the clay hardened, the newspaper was removed, and the clay became ready to paint, embellish and add to.

Some students chose to use the convex surface of their half spheres or hemispheres as a place to create symbolic forms and shapes such as stars and hearts, rather than a face or character.

Students played with using the paint pens by working on paper first.

The paint pens allowed them freedom from choosing and washing  brushes, adding water, and controlling “loose” acrylic paints. They could use the paint pens to create intricate patterns like a drawing tool.

Students learned to pounce or “stipple” with the paint pens, using their tips to apply paint to creases and crevices in the clay.

Students could then add feathers, beads, pipe cleaners and other embellishments to their masks, to further develop their characters, designs, forms and images.

Some chose to focus on color through painting, adding a carefully chosen addition to enhance their character.

This young artists has incised, or drawn into the clay to create they eyes, and added clay to build out the nose. The mouth uses both techniques.

Students used foam plates to mix new colors on, as well as for palettes.

Mixing all the colors together was a popular choice, and helped the students to understand some of the principles of color mixing.

Detail and focus ruled, even with the younger children.

This young artist has mixed the secondary colors of green and orange, from his palette of primary colors, red blue and yellow.

We used both grey and red air dry clay.

Here a young artist mixes green…after painting the outside of the pot blue, and the inside yellow.

These two kindergarteners had a wonderful time painting and creating together!

There is something about painting that seems to clear out irritability, and at least temporarily suspend human anxiety.

It is wonderful to see creative”flow” in action!

Masks and Merriment

Masks and Merriment

I had the wonderful opportunity to lead a mask-making program recently at the great  Baldwin Hills Public Library, part of the Los Angeles Public Library system.

web6Parents worked alongside their children, and joined in the fun!

web1We created three-dimensional masks of flat sheets of bright tag paper by cutting through the corners and attaching the edges.

web5Participants then creatively adorned and

web4developed their mask

web3characters.

web2We can become someone else when wearing our masks…

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And maybe, become more ourselves!

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And isn’t that what the creative process is all about?

Mask Magic 2

Mask Magic 2

At a building owned by the Community Corporation of Santa Monica (CCSM), I conducted a two-part mask making workshop! Families who rented units in the building attended, with children, spouses, and neighbors.

webcThe work created is breathtaking, and was shown last Friday November 4th at an exhibition entitled,
The Artists Among Us“.

Here is this chapter of their story.

webiDuring the first workshop, participants learned to pound out slabs of air-dry clay, create an “armature” with newspaper to give their masks depth, and form their clay slabs over the armature.

weblThe following week, participants used acrylic paints to add color, visual texture, design and pattern to their masks and other clay items, and also enjoyed painting on thick watercolor paper. As acrylic paints dry quickly, and are no longer water-soluble once dry, the artists were able to continue to add paint, details and layers.

web1Reveling in color and brush work, this young artist filled her surface with exploration.

webaI did not see this couple enter the room, and suddenly there they were, painting with complete concentration.

webbParticipant interaction makes the whole experience the more rich.

webdEach got their own palette of colors on a Styrofoam plate, with empty plates available for mixing and discovering colors.

webeGreen grass with delicate characters above.  She must love purple. Maybe she will add it later to her painting!

webfFocused artist and craftswoman.

webgAdding detail.  Every brush I brought seemed to have been used!

webhShe seems to know exactly what she wants to paint, as if the vision was already inside her head.

webnEnergetic color, imagery, brush strokes and composition create movement in this piece.

webvA lion happened on this plate!  Painting? Mask? Both?!

webzHe said it was his first time painting…he must be a natural. What talent!

Many thanks to the marvelous and devoted  Rene Melara, programmer extraordinaire, for the opportunity to work with these wonderful participants, and see their artwork blossom.

Bravo!

Mask Magic

Mask Magic

At a building owned by the Community Corporation of Santa Monica (CCSM), I conducted a two-part mask making workshop! Families who rented units in the building attended, with children, spouses, and neighbors.

The work created is breathtaking, and will be shown Friday November 4th at an exhibition entitled,
The Artists Among Us“.

Here is this chapter of their story.web1web2The mask is formed of clay….then painted…

web3then shown.

web2Women share as they create.

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web7A seasonal offering sculpted…webiand painted.

https://artissima.wordpress.com/2016/11/08/mask-magic-2/web6A Dia De los Muertos sugar scull is created…webkand comes to life with color and pattern.

webtClay characters drying.

webyColor helps to define the mask personalities.

webwPainted plates are another way to create masks and characters. The round shape suggests a lion, and the paint defines it!

webuColor, texture, shapes, and the artists’ choices bring the forms to life.

webs“Once in a blue moon…” (!)

webrEmotions are elicited through facial expression, color choices, and the way the paint is applied to the textured, sculpted clay surfaces.


webqWhat a line-up!

weblStrong sense of design and pattern.

webmwebgwebcFocused artists

webfMeticulous painting creates detail.

web4Bringing out the eyes…

webo   Proud participating artist with her creations.

webj

webpThe fruits of love’s labor.

The Art of the Samurai…Layer upon Layer

The Art of the Samurai…Layer upon Layer

There is an incredible exhibition at The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) called Samurai: Japanese Armor from the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Collection.

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These works employ an extraordinary use of layering: materials, colors, forms, shapes, textures.  They are a visual feast, steeped in history. Below is a selection of highlights…please take the tour!

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There is another wonderful exhibition at the Pavilion for Japanese Art entitled Art of the Samurai: Swords, Paintings, Prints, and Textiles, which showcases Japanese swords, samurai robes, battle screens, and woodblock prints depicting legends and battles.

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This beautiful installation complements the exhibition Samurai: Japanese Armor from the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Collection at LACMA.