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Mask Art Project Ideas

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

There are many reasons to incorporate masks into a classroom, from creative artistry to engaging with diverse cultures and theatrical traditions. These projects will give you several ways to adapt mask making for your class.

Why Make Masks?

Masks, as an art form, have been revered around the world and throughout time. By creating masks, students are given an opportunity to learn about different artistic traditions and engage in artistic self-reflection. The projects that follow are designed to be mixed and matched, providing many different ways to incorporate mask making into your classrooms.

Making a Mask

The actual act of designing and making a mask can be an outlet for creative expression and internal reflection. Depending on the time and resources available to your class, there are several ways to make masks.

  • Papier-Mache: Making masks out of papier-mache can be time consuming and requires many materials, but the result is a physical and solid mask that students will feel proud of. You can have students mold the base for their mask directly on their own faces (they will use a partner to do this) or take measurements of their face and construct the mask on a craft table. Either way, using a mesh base helps the mask hold its basic shape as you add the paper strips and clay/sculpting material.
  • Paper Materials: Paper materials, from card stock to printing paper to cardboard, are cheap and easy to work with (materials like felt also work will). They will not create a mask that feels as solid or formal as papier-mache, but these projects are quicker and easier to incorporate into many classrooms. Have student measure their faces and cut out the shapes of their masks, using twine, string, or similar materials to tie the mask.
  • Found Objects: As a fun artistic experiment, you can ask students to create a mask using random or found objects, glued together. For a project like this, it is generally best to provide the base for the mask, which could be as nice as a solid pre-made mask or as simple as a paper plate with eyeholes cut out.
  • Mask Sketches: Not all mask projects need students to make a physical mask. While it is undeniably engaging to do so, it often means that students only have time to create a single mask. If you want to focus less on a single design and more on having students create a suite of designs or several variations on a theme, simply having them draw or sketch their designs can be more time efficient.

Mask Designs

Regardless of how students make the physical mask, there are many ways to design it. Each has advantages within different curricula.

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