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Submitted by: Christina Salinas, Del Mar High School in San Jose, CA.
Lesson: Masks Around the World - Cultural Masks
Grade Level: Middle School through High School
The students start this project with a research paper on a cultural mask. The mask may be from their culture or from another culture. Part of the criteria when creating their mask, is to change it in some fashion personalizing the mask. They are not to make an exact replica of the cultural mask.
The students choose masks from all over the world, which makes it interesting and exciting to see what masks catches their attention. Masks are given a modern look with Metallic Acrylics and Perlescent paints. Students begin with a draped slab process. Check her Artsonia site to see all of the wonderful ideas -be sure to check previous years.
Books on masks
African Masks: From the Barbier-Mueller Collection - This volume presents nearly 250 of the finest African masks from the incomparable Barbier-Mueller collection.
Masks of the World - An extensive collection of beautiful masks from around the world, all portrayed in beautiful color. Powerful in their form, nearly every continent is represented with masks organized by country of origin and by tribal group.
Carnival Masks of Venice: A Photographic Essay - This pictorial essay on the disguises that characterize Carnival will delight and inspire by examining the history of the event and providing a clear explanation of the different types of mask in use.
Some introductory lesson ideas from San D Hasselman (middle school - high school)
1. Open ended discussion with students (also have slides/posters/PowerPoint) on what IS a mask. Ask them questions about what they think a mask is, and why a mask is used, that sort of thing. Engage them and find out what they know already. Learning happens when you can associate something you know with something you don't. I would show examples from everything from ritual, to religious, to theater, to Halloween. Have visual examples from as many cultures as you can find. Note: A masks overview video could be shown on this day. See video by Crystal Productions - a slides from many African cultures could be shown (St. Louis Museum of Art has a nice slide set with narration).
2. Then explain that they will be concentrating on ONE type of MASK, from one specific CULTURE. (Again have visuals). I would give them specific information of that culture, and then go into why MASKS are used and important in that culture. This would be part of my PowerPoint/slide/poster presentation. I would give them a specific assignment to do in groups of 3 or 4 that had to do specifically with the culture, so that they would have a basic understanding of the culture prior to concentrating on the masks.
3. Today would be my Venn Diagram day and the masks. I would be concentrating with having students comparing and contrasting various masks from your chosen CULTURE. After they do the Venn Diagram, you can have an open ended discussion with questions so as: What do these masks have in common? How are they different? What are they made out of? What sizes are they? What do they represent? How do you think they are worn? Note: if on time constraint, 2 and 3 could be done the same day).
4. Today I would hand out paper, and say "given all you know about ___________ culture's masks, I want you to design 3 masks, each representing a________________(could be ritual, animal, religious... whatever YOU have discerned the culture to do with the masks). Tomorrow you will be presenting your drawings to the class, explaining why you designed it they way you did. Be prepared to explain how your masks fits into the 'stereotype' of the culture's mask. Your 'thumbnail sketches" MUST include the following: Size, materials you would use to create the mask, Intent for the mask. (thesis statement development)
5. Each student stands up in front of the class with their drawings and 'declares'. Students critique based on their knowledge of the culture (you may want to write up a sheet of questions that students should be asking themselves when they see the other students' drawings, with a rating system. I collect these sheets from the students and then collate them so that each kid gets a checklist from everyone in the class). At the end of the 5 days, students will have learned about masks, concentrated on a specific culture, compared and contrasted masks from that culture, designed masks based on that culture and stood up in front of the class to declare their intent for their designed masks and critiqued each other's ideas.
Students would work on their clay masks after a review of techniques to be used.