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Visual Arts: Mask Making. Kim Terry Parkdale High School. Visual Arts: Background Information. Criteria refers to the standards of judgment in a work of art. African cultures have standards of beauty for members of their society.

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visual arts mask making

Visual Arts:Mask Making

Kim Terry

Parkdale High School

visual arts background information
Visual Arts:Background Information
  • Criteria refers to the standards of judgment in a work of art.
  • African cultures have standards of beauty for members of their society.
  • Those standards of beauty reflect what people in those cultures actually look like.
  • African cultures have criteria for their artworks based on their standards of physical beauty or particular attributes that they deem important to the community.
  • African artworks combine craftsmanship with criteria to create practical objects.
  • African masks are works of art that are used to communicate information to the members of the community.
  • African masks are works of art that form a link for communication between the members of the physical and the spirit worlds.
suggested activities warm ups
Suggested Activities: Warm ups
  • Have the students write the names of all of the people that they have seen who they think are attractive. Then have them write an explanation why each person they named is attractive.
  • Have the students write the names of every person they know who they think is attractive. Have them write write an explanation of why that person is attractive.
  • Have the students call out qualities that a person should have if he or she is to be considered attractive. Ask them to name someone famous who has each of these qualities. Then ask them to name someone in their lives who embodies these characteristics.
  • Divide the qualities into two categories: “physical qualities” and “character qualities”.
  • Have the students write or explain why these qualities are important.
suggested projects initial understanding
Suggested Projects:Initial Understanding
  • Show the students slides of African masks from different countries.
  • Discuss what the criteria are for the masks (I.e. elements- geometric shapes, exaggerated features or materials- wood, raffia)
  • Demonstrate the use of tools and techniques (mechanics) of making an African-styled mask.
  • Show the students examples of successful student works.
  • Show the students unsuccessful student works and explain how those works could be improved or corrected.
  • Explain the criteria (rubric) for the assignment.
suggested projects production
Suggested Projects:Production
  • Project #1

Have the students create an African mask by cutting out a basic cardboard structure. Let them glue on any additional pieces foe features such as noses or eyebrows. Have the students cover the mask with Plastercraft. Then have the students decorate their masks.

Project #2

Have the students each blow up a balloon and tie it. Then have them cover the front of the balloon with Plastercraft. After the plaster dries, they will pop the balloon and cut out the eyes. Then they can add cardboard features and glue them to the plaster. If the students add, features, those features must be plastered also. Then have the students decorate their mask..

Project #3
  • Put the students in groups of two or thee. One student is the model. The “artist” students will apply Vaseline directly to the model’s face. Then the artists will apply wet Plastercraft directly to the student’s face. After ten minutes, the artists will remove the Plastercraft mold from the model’s face. Have each student in the group alternate being the model. Each student decorates the mask of their own face.
special considerations plaster face molds for masks
Special Considerations:Plaster face molds for masks
  • The plaster molds of students must be a voluntary activity. No one must be made to model!!!
  • Have all models bring their own wash towels and toiletries from home.
  • Make sure that both artists and models are covered in old clothes.
  • Student models cannot talk, smile, etc. while the wet plaster is on their faces.
  • Work out a series of hand signals so the students can communicate with you if they become uncomfortable in the wet plaster.
  • Make sure that the artists avoid all hairlines when applying the plaster to the models.
  • Make sure the artists avoid applying plaster inside the eye sockets or over the nostrils of the models.
  • Be prepared for all medical emergencies!


criteria african masks
Criteria:African Masks
  • 50 points- Masks reflects one of the cultural styles that we have discussed
  • 20 points – Mask shows creativity
  • 20 points – Mask demonstrates some aesthetic quality
  • 10 points – Mask is on time
  • 100 TOTAL

Teachable Moments

  • This is a golden opportunity to teach your students self esteem.
  • The plaster face molds are an excellent opportunity to talk about trust.
  • This lesson can be adapted to any culture that uses masks.