Since October of 2022, the Junior Design class led by Ms. Moos and Mr. Crockford, has been working on designing and constructing masks. The process began with having students define what a mask is, along with researching their own masks and going over the history and significance of masks. After grasping the concept of a “mask,” students were then able to take creative liberty and design a mask of their own. This involved sketching several views of their imagined masks so that when the construction process began, they would have a clear idea of what they would be building. When the time to build the masks came, the main materials used were cardboard, tape, and staples. This was followed by papier-mâché and the eventual painting and refinement of the masks, some of which were presented to visitors of the school.
Between each major step of the process, students would be taught new vocabulary as well as be re-exposed to the fundamentals of design that were initially taught in freshman year. This includes lessons on color, lightweight construction (among other methods), and balance in art. Overall, students used this project as an outlet for their creativity, making unique masks all with different inspirations and meanings behind them.
The following are some student masks accompanied by their respective Artist Statements:
Hi, my name is Annalisa. I’m an actress, writer, and an artist. My intention was to create a mask that has a lot of controversies, feelings, and a loud message. I wanted it to shed light on a social issue that’s occurring right now. The setting of a mask could be used in a more Action wise or an activist movement performance since it mostly surrounds a warrior mask. My mask has a lot of errors and a lot of things I’m not happy about but the most eye-appealing detail I’d say that pops out is the words. The mask is kind of confusing so the words are a way to define the mask more accurately but it beats the point of the mask being mysterious.
Making the mask was basically trial and error. I kept disliking the outcome of the mask and refined it several times. Instead of continuously refining it, I went around and took a look at everyone else’s mask and the process of creating it. I became influenced by them and was able to put the aspects that I’ve seen into different parts of my mask. I didn’t want to stray away from my main intention behind the mask so every detail that was added also added a new story or took part of the mask in some form, feeling, or definition. The main idea behind this mask was religion. Being a Muslim, I felt as if I had a voice to speak for Muslim women who want to have their own rights and free will. The meaning behind it would cause controversies regarding whether it’s right to fight for the removal of hijabs for some women who don’t like it. Whoever feels comfortable wearing it, that’s their decision to wear it or not. I called it The Hajj Knights because the hajj is somewhere that Muslims go to pray which signifies the religious purpose behind it. But it’s also a knight mask that acts as a shield to fight for what’s right. The butterflies were later added on to signify freedom. One butterfly’s wings are closed and the other one is more open to signify them, opening their wings to fly and be free.
Aafa was a Muslim girl living under a corrupt person who used the Quran falsely to oppress women. Her mother always told her about women who fought for their rights but it sometimes ended badly. Aafa’s mother, Ahmada always told her to stop trying and leave things as it is before she loses her life. Aafa agreed with her mom but still ended up protesting in disguise. One day, police came to break up the protest so everyone scattered. Aafa was left dumbfounded as she didn’t know how to deal with these situations so she ran into a deep alleyway to hide from the police. Knowing that they saw her run in there, she jumps into the garbage dump to hide from them. 20 minutes later after they finish searching the area and leaving, Aafa lifts her head up from the garbage gagging because of the smell. She soon feels a sharp pain in her hand and lifts it up to see she had a small cut covered in garbage. She also sees something that catches her eye as a little of her blood drops on the mask. As soon as she picks it up, the mask quickly attaches itself to her face. Not knowing how to get it off, Aafa covers her face with a big Shayla and walks home. As she’s walking home she hears the mask speaking to her as he’s someone from her ancestry line from years ago. Fast forward to 7 months later Aafa, known as the Hajj Knight was seen as wanted with women parading the streets praising her for standing up for them and being their savior. Aafa roams the street without the mask since no one knows she’s the Hajj Knight smiling knowing that a new future is about to come.
Derek Ramos Matos
The goal of this project was to design a headgear/mask out of cardboard and other lightweight materials. We were given the opportunity to design whatever we wanted as our headgear. For me, I based my mask on a spartan helmet. My mask is a helmet worn by Spartans (Greek Warriors) as armor. It symbolized a Spartan’s strength, courage, loyalty, and power while providing efficient defense while still allowing a person to use their senses such as sight, smell, and hearing effectively. Something I believe that stands out about my design is the color exploration and how I arrived at the specific hues I use in my piece. For example, most Spartan helmets in ancient Greece were made of copper and other lightweight metals, but I decided to simulate gold as the material used. This would contradict the efficiency of these helmets as gold is very heavy and is a softer metal. I made this decision to reflect refinement and luxury. The materials used influenced my design a tremendous amount. Since I wanted a solid piece that was still relatively lightweight the balance between cardboard and paper mâché, clay was very important. This influenced where I wanted to place the clay and how I would use it to emphasize the most important details while remaining lightweight in construction.
I had minimal difficulty when constructing my piece since I was able to convey my design using the materials provided efficiently. Though I ran into problems with the cardboard warping due to an excess amount of water and glue when I paper mâchéd. Something I would do differently would be with my paper mâché. I would use less water and glue to try to avoid the warping of the cardboard. This would give my piece a further level of refinement, and I would be able to express its design more appropriately. The greatest influence I had to design this headgear was the movie “300.” This movie inspired me to make something resembling Greek culture and history. The most important thing I found was their strong military and their belief in war. So I based my design around this. I took further inspiration from pictures of different variations of Spartan helmets and how each one of them was unique in its own way. From start to finish my inspiration remained constant but my design changed based on the different elements that I found in the different types of masks. These elements were incorporated into my headgear and were further developed the more I worked on it.
In regard to these inspirations, the materials I used limited my ability to express the design fully. The Spartan helmet incorporates a mane made of red hair that I wasn’t able to replicate. I had to conform to a solid piece instead of hair. I would have liked to be able to incorporate this aspect into the conceptualization of my headgear. I believe my headgear would be perceived as a remodeling of a historic piece. It can leave a memorable impression since it is a replication of something that is part of our past and not commonly seen. The feelings this will conjure can be positive and I believe it can intrigue anyone that sees it. Overall I am very proud of my headgear and how it turned out in the end. Even through the whole design process and the multiple stages of refinement that it underwent I believe it was a successful project.
During the journey of my mask, I never really had an ideal thought of what it was exactly going to be. However, I knew whatever it was, it was going to be unique and beautiful in its own kind of way. The overall goal was to create tint hues of 2 transparent colors. I had this mindset because I have a unique frame of mind such as creating things differently or being extremely creative when it comes to art. I believed that I was going for a mask with different kinds of shapes that combined into one, wasn’t yet sure of what color I was going to go with but I was satisfied with my start. I had a blueprint of this idea and when I was ready I needed to take action into creating it, and wanted to have one eye to symbolize something you won’t see on a “normal” face mask. Cardboard was the structure and to be honest, it was pretty challenging cutting the cardboard into the exact shapes you were aiming for. Once I had my construction, I later hot glued the shapes onto my base. Now I was able to truly call this a mask! Everything was falling into place, but I needed this to have a harder texture and to be stable; therefore, I took paper mâché into action. Paper mâché was much easier and was very interesting to me because when dried it was a rough texture and created weight in a way. These methods and techniques influenced my mask because without them my mask wouldn’t be what it is today.
Throughout the process, I still had no idea of what color(s) I intended to go for, yet I knew I wanted bright colors. Eventually, I found colors that reminded me of fruits because of how much I enjoy them such as red and pink to symbolize watermelon and dragon fruit. I believe my mask would be viewed in the community as something quite odd or brain thinking due to the concepts of shapes being involved and not just one simple design or because of the choices of colors. My mask means a lot to me because I started with something confusing but towards the end, I had something understanding because everything wouldn’t have an exact meaning to it unless you work your way up. I wouldn’t change anything about my design because it is unique and magnificent in its own way. Determination helped me have much confidence in my work. Overall, I love my mask, I’m happy and proud of myself for what I’ve accomplished.
Jennifer Segundo Ramirez, “Midnight Goth”
We were asked to research a mask that we wanted to create and share out with the whole class. My mask is called Midnight Goth. The mask could’ve been silly, weird, crazy, or anything as long as it was creative. The type of performance my mask can be in or used for is a goth/demon type of performance. My mask was meant to be a demon mask but the colors make it seem like a goth-themed mask. The meaning of the mask isn’t very specific because when we were doing peer review, many people that saw it didn’t get the concept of my mask. The things that made my mask stand out are the mouth and the color. The mouth of my mask pops out way more than any other part since it was made with paper mâché clay and it was more of a 3D shape. As for the color, the color wasn’t the exact color I had in mind. The color I had in mind was dark red. At first, it was going to be different shades from top to bottom. But when I was painting my mask, I started with a pink base. After going over it with red, I made a color on the bottom that resembled a dark red-purple color, leaving the top of the mask pink. I tried to fade each color together. I made the tip of the horn of my mask gold and the middle the same dark red with pink. My mask is way bigger than the average head size.
My ideas changed during the process of making my mask. The first time I was sketching out my mask, the design was much different from what it is now. In my sketch, I had an idea of having small balls in the middle going outward, and like a chain, going through each circle. But on my current mask, I added spiders to the top part and I chose to not include the small circles. I didn’t even think about making the mouth pop out the most but it sounded like a good idea, so I decided to add it. My idea of adding spiders came from when I was drawing spiders randomly on my worksheet in class or anytime I had time and paper in front of me. Spiders were the only thing that were in mind so when it came to what else to add to my mask, I thought of spiders.
For my mask, I used both paper mâché and paper mâché clay to make my mask strong and stable. The paper mache clay was used to make the base and shape of the mouth and teeth. The way I used the paper mâché was to make the base of the whole mask and to make it sturdy. The techniques that were used weren’t the best because when it dried up some of it was lifting and didn’t stay down too well since I used big pieces of paper. Next time I could use smaller pieces of paper and make sure the paper stays down before it dried and added another layer. The paper mâché clay is used for both the base and details for the mouth. I believe it came out way better than I expected. I was struggling with the teeth at the beginning but after playing around with it, I got the shape that I was very satisfied with. I also used paper mache clay for the structure of the spider. I found them very cute to add on my mask and to add a little more detail to it.
The building methods and design elements did not limit my design process because they actually helped me build my design out way better than expected. Since when I first was doing my sketches of my mask I wasn’t thinking about the materials I could use so it really didn’t come to mind. But when we got told we can use the materials they had or we could have added our own. This helped be more creative in my design. The way my mask could be received in the community by either hatred due to some religions but in a positive way, it can be used for some bands or a goth community marching. I believe it can be received by those people who are into demotic or goth music. Some impressions my mask could leave are scary, demotic, fun, creative, gothic and even horrifying. I feel like some feeling my mask could give or leave behind is scary and horrific.
The process of making my mask was kind of complicated and fun because it was my first time doing something like it. The target of doing this is to understand the ways of building that are used in Architecture. The teachers taught the class about masks and the different processes of building a mask. After this, the class was tasked to design and build a mask. The teachers gave the class some tools to learn more about masks and some websites about the history of making masks and their meanings. This helped me.
Then the class had to make their research about masks that we were interested in. I researched Mexican masks, how the masks were built, the materials that they were made of, and their purpose and meaning. The masks from Mexico are very interesting, the shape, the colors, the materials, and the story about their origins. I chose Mexico because these types of masks are very weird and old but my major reason I chose it was because it is part of my culture.
When the class was done with our research, we designed our own masks and built them.
The Olmec Mask and 4 other designs inspired my first design. The mask that I chose to make was the most striking and creepy. The teacher taught the class some ways to build a mask from zero, how the architecture had taken ideas from a leaf, and how the leaf is supported and does not lose its shape. Stress skin was the method that most of my classmates and I chose. The principal materials I used to make my mask were cardboard, and paper mâché with staples, glue, and tape as the secondary materials. Then I made a helmet with cardboard, which fits me perfectly. Over time I made a lot of modifications to the mask, making it better and heavier. When I did the last modification, the mask was very uncomfortable to wear. So the teachers helped with that and they helped me to fix it. After this, I had to cover the whole mask with paper mâché clay (Paper dust mixed with water) that the teachers made. Painting was the last step, the base color was white. I still need to add some details and some accessories.
My mask does not have meaning, but my mask is about a demon that kills other demons and sometimes people. Some of my friends told me that it looks like the head of a giant ant, which makes sense. The opinions are helpful.
Later I had to make a design of how I would like the mask to look. The painting part was the most difficult because I do not know how to paint and how to use the colors to make an object more realistic and the different shades. Eventually, the teachers gave a class about paints, the different ways of painting, the hues, complementary colors, analogous colors, and tint. As a result, I learned how to paint and mixed hues. I tried to paint the mask realistic and creepy and use different hues of colors and tints.
In conclusion, the process was very funny and interesting, I enjoyed making the mask even though I struggled a bit. I learned a lot, and now I can understand and see different architecture which I want to learn more about.
Joseph Perez, “Frog of Love”
The Frog of Love is an interesting piece in the sense that it isn’t even mine. Originally, I was planning to create a big “shield”, using the surface of the shield as a canvas to represent the outward appearances we take on. The outside is meant to be pristine, clean, and without fault while the person behind the shield makes mistakes and is intrinsically flawed. Of course that wasn’t the direction that I took in the class. Shortly after schedules shifted, and I was separated from my original group, I lost the drive to continue with the process. This was coupled with many absences and blunders on my part.
But the Frog of Love is its own, magnificent piece of artwork. The original creator meant it to represent how Love is unconventional and at many times ugly, it’s apparent that this was the case because of its construction. Many protrusions sprouting out of the back of the Frog with hearts attached to the end almost frame a picture of how love grows and develops. From a feeling within to a sprouting and blossoming scene to display the positive feelings of the wearer.
The project we got assigned was to make a mask or a piece of headgear, something that can represent the wearer and express the knowledge the creator has amassed over time in class. The Frog of Love is a headgear. It cannot be worn over the face as a mask and attempts at doing such things have been unsuccessful. The design can stick out in many ways, depending on the perspective of the onlooker. The most eye-catching feature of the Frog is the protrusions with heart-like appendages on the end of them, as well as the tongue sticking out of the Frog’s face.
I cannot speak on the mask’s original creation or design as I started my work on the headgear after its form had been finalized so I had little room to change it before I started priming the headgear. The color scheme was meant to be layered with greens and pinks, starting with a white prime and then a light green. Then as the layers progress, the colors would get darker, eventually reaching a more forest green type of color. Purposely leaving parts of the coat lighter and blending the light and dark shades to add some depth to the coat helps make it look like the frog has boils on the surface of its skin. I used pink over the final coat and on the appendages coming out of the Frog, scattered pink dots, over the skin of the Frog and haphazardly splattered pink on the protrusions. The eyes of the frog were going to be a light shade of purple, with some pink along the eyelid.
Leading up to this project, we worked on another project to research various masks and their origin. In this project, we were asked to design our own masks, and many used masks that they researched as inspiration for the design or meaning of their work. My mask is intended to be used as just a display at an art exhibition. Its purpose is to just represent hunger and greed. From my mask, what is meant to stand out the most are the cookie eyes and the holes on the headpiece.
My mask went through various stages and prototypes before it came to what it is right now. When I was researching during my previous project related to this project, I found a variety of different meanings someone could put onto their mask. Within the same tribe or community, the masks/body masks had a common style of how their structure or design was formed. At first, I wanted to use a similar style to these communities, but I later wanted to use a different technique to form my mask. The only thing that influenced my mask from those communities was the usage of nature to take part in the design corresponding to my mask. Using nature and a Pokémon named “Bonsly”, I created some sketches about what my mask could look like, and I stuck with one that has the branches as its focus. With my sketch selected in mind, I started with building the semi-circle base. After that was done, I worked on cutting up pieces of cardboard to make the branches and the cookies. I made sure to make a couple of cookies look eaten by creating bite marks by cutting them up with scissors. After the cookies, branches, and headpiece were all attached, I paper mâchéd everything and made sure it went behind the cookies. For the painting process, I originally planned on making everything with desaturated colors, but I ended up using various shades while painting the cookies.
I enjoyed using paper mâché to put my piece together. However, while putting my headpiece together, I noticed how parts of the stick frame popped up unevenly. This created a messy foundation for the headpiece. As a result, I ended up cutting the mask up and it ended up looking better. As for the extensions attached to the headpiece, some needed reinforcements to stabilize them. In the future, I will continue to use reinforcements because it is just inevitable to need some type of stabilization. For the stick frame, I might end up using thicker sticks to prevent the roughness that comes with using so many sticks.
My mask is transformational. My mask is intended to kill appetites. The holes give you the emptiness from needing to reach for something sugary. The eyes on the cookies also aid in warding off the need for sugar. This originates from my constant desire for sweetness, and my conflict with its tempting smell. The holes in the mask describe the power of the mask, being able to empty the thoughts needed to crave those types of sugary things. Nothing else comes near the power of being able to take out sugar cravings as effectively as my mask.
The building methods and design elements did not limit my design process. Instead they helped me create a foundation that I can modify as I please. The stick foundation and the extensions influenced my way of thinking, and they helped me continuously expand on ideas as I was building my creation. What I once thought would be the “end goal” constantly changed as I had endless amounts of ideas combining paints to create neutrals to create chaos and symphony. I had the freedom to put my style into the base that was created by everyone. I was able to modify it as I pleased, and this foundation only gave me the stool to add a unique flair to it.
Brandon Rosario, “The Great Snake’s Vicious Battle”
As part of a hands-on activity for building and design, the class and I were tasked with using cardboard to create a lightweight skeleton of a mask. The first step of the project was to brainstorm ideas that could be used as a mask concept. Due to my obsession with video games, I took a lot of inspiration from my favorite games. I wanted my mask to have both a level of complexity along with a story that details the life of my mask. This led to me creating a small design of a snake head which would be worn as a mask. The mask would go over a user’s head and have a gap that allows for visibility and breathing. The use of the mask changed between representational and/or an alter-styled piece that wouldn’t be worn. After considering time constraints and logistics, I decided to have the mask used like a statue. Similar to the states of the snakes from the video game Sekiro Shadows Die Twice, the mask would be used for viewing purposes only. The design concept of my mask has very few concepts and ideas that remain constant. The only exception is the gaping mouth of the snake baring its fangs outwards. The part about the mask that stands out the most is the incomplete nature of the design. I wanted the mask to look aged and worn out. I believe this was done successfully however another stage of painting is mandatory in order to complete the intended visual of the mask.
As mentioned before, the initial design concept of the mask changed significantly throughout the design process. Originally, my mask was part of a group project that would use small elements of a snake as separate masks which, when grouped together, turned into a full snake sculpture. This idea fell short due to one major flaw, all of the group members attending. After the initial design, most members of the group were unable to complete the project. This made the current, at the time, design concept nearly impossible to complete. To compensate, my design became smaller and turned into the concept of a traditional mask. The piece would be a headgear that only goes past the chin. Following the lightweight construction of the mask, the class was tasked with creating the “skin” of the mask using paper mâché. To emphasize the rough nature and background of my mask, I made the paper mâché have hills and cracks. When painted, this made the mask look aged and worn out. In order to draw attention to the mouth of the snake, I gave the jaw of the snake a cartoon-like pose and made the gums/inside of the mouth a bright color. In terms of the jaw, I wanted the jaw of the snake to be identifiable while being unrealistic. This is done to draw a viewer’s attention to the jaw and the large teeth/fangs (after a technical issue and to further the idea that the snake has come from battle, one of the fangs was taken out and replaced with a bleeding gum) of the snake. By using blue and red as the main color mixture for the gums of the snake, the majority of the mouth is various shades and tints of purple. The paint was applied with both a wet, damp, and dry brush. The wet and damp brush was used to create clear strokes and vibrant colors. A dry brush was used in parts of the mouth that I wanted to have looked aged. In doing so, the mask got a flesh style while still looking aged.
The use of cardboard made the skeleton of the mask extremely stable and easy to manipulate. The only limitation was layering the cardboard without wasting materials and finding the right-sized cardboard for certain parts of the mask. To resolve this problem, I combined different strips of cardboard to get the necessary dimensions of cardboard. Due to the variety in cardboard quality, I wasn’t able to properly extract features that are now apparent in the current state of the mask. One side of the jaw is flat while the other is bulky. Following the foundation, paper mâché was used to expand the mask. I applied thick layers to give the snake mask depth and life. The only notable difficulty I can mention about this step is that extracting small details, such as eyelids, was extremely difficult. This became more apparent as I applied sili-clay to expand on the mask. Currently, I’m attempting to use the painting process to emphasize the difference between the eyes and eyelids.
As the title of the mask suggests, I want my mask to have a great story. During the sili-clay portion of the mask-making process, one of the fangs fell out of place. While I attempted to fix the fang, the entire gum and tooth fell right out. After looking at the mask and being unable to fix the fang, I thought about the history of my mask. After a while, I took inspiration from the Great Snakes in Sekiro Shadows Die Twice. In the first 25 – 40 minutes into the game, the player is introduced to one of the two great snakes. The snake chases the player into an abandoned merchant shop. At this point, the player is forced to wait for the snake to approach the tent before the player stabs the snake in the left eye. After recalling this monumental moment from the game, I began to weave a story regarding my mask. A great snake worshiped like the snakes from Sekiro, is confronted by an enemy of unknown size and power. The great snake said to have fought this unknown creature loses a fang. To further make my snake mask parallel to the story of the great snakes from Sekiro, I wanted to have the mask appear stand-alone instead of being a group-based prop. One of my group members has constructed a tail that is made to be just bone and appear hollow. The tail does have the possibility to be added to the concept of my mask.