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AFRICAN MASKS LESSON

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by

Laura Whitaker

on 25 August 2014

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Transcript of AFRICAN MASKS LESSON

AFRICAN MASKS
THE AFRICAN TRIBAL ARTIST
AFRICAN ARTS INFLUENCE
ON WESTERN ART
MASK MAKING MATERIALS
PURPOSE OF AFRICAN TRIBAL MASKS
USE OF PATTERN IN MASKS
ELEMENTS OF STYLE
IN AN AFRICAN MASK

Training to become a tribal mask maker
may take several years.The artist must learn carving
techniques and how to apply the social and religious objects he creates. His craft can be learned as an apprentice in the workshop of a master carver,
or these skills may be handed down from father to son through many generations.
The artist holds a respected position in African tribal society. It is his job to provide the various masks and sculptures for use in ritual ceremonies. His work is valued for its spiritual, rather than its aesthetic qualities.
Most importantly, African masks are seen as part of a ceremonial costume. They are used in religious and social events to represent the spirits of ancestors or to control the good and evil forces in the community. They come to life, possessed by their spirit in the performance of the dance and are enhanced by both the music and atmosphere of the occasion. Some combine human and animal features to unite man with his natural environment.
Today, the finer qualities of african tribal art like the qualities of good art from any continent are more clearly understood and have assumed their true position in the art of mankind. Sadly, most traditional African artworks are now produced for the tourist trade. Although some of these objects are examples of skilled craftsmanship, collectors suggest that many lack the character that is generated by spiritual, as opposed to a profit motive.
Wood is the most commonly used material for 2 reasons.
1. Trees are in plentiful supply in the forest.
2. The carver believes that the tree has a spiritual soul and its wood is the most natural form for the spirit in the mask.
Before a tree is cut down, a sacrifice may be offered as a mark of respect to the spirit of the tree requesting its permission for the carving.
Wooden masks are often colored with natural dyes and pigments created from plants, tree bark, soil and insects. Occasionally they are splashed with sacrificial blood to increase their spiritual power.
The Adze is the main tool used to make a mask from wood. It also is believed to have its own spirit. Tools that are passed down through different generations, are believed to take on the spirit and skill of their previous owners.
African masks are made from different materials: wood, bronze, brass, copper, ivory, terra cotta and glazed pottery, raffia and textiles. They are often decorated with cowrie shells, colored beads, bone and animal skins.
TEXTURE: Example: highly polished surfaces
which represent youth, reflect the idea
of beauty and virtue, while dirty rough
surfaces suggest fear and evil.
SHAPE: African masks can take on
many shapes.
COMPOSITION: the arrangement
of the lines, shapes and forms.
Some patterns are often used as a form of coded information. Parallel, zigzag, curved and spiral lines, representing scarification marks or tattoos, are frequently used to adorn the planes of the mask face. These can denote social status or have magical or religious powers.
Bold pattern, whether painted or carved, is a powerful and expressive element in African mask design. Most patterns tend to be geometrical and symmetrical and are used in a variety of ways.
Artists in the 20th century were
bored with the predictability of
traditional artist techniques. They were
looking for new forms of expression.
They found it in the art of other cultures.
Notice the similarities between the
African masks and Pablo Picasso's cubist
portraits.
Your Project:
Modern Metal Masks
Instructions:
1. Draw out 4 ideas for your mask design. Select your favorite.
2. fold a piece of newsprint in half
3. draw half of a mask
4. transfer drawing to the other side
by using ebony pencil
5. tape mask to metal
6. draw over drawing with pencil to
transfer to metal
7. remove paper pattern and add bold
patterns by using metal tooling techniques.
repousse:
counter-repousse:
patterns must be symmetrical

Assessment
Following Directions:
bold shape, use of pattern, use of symbolism
Technique:
metal tooling, use of markers, repousse, counter repousse
Creativity:
original
Craftsmanship:
no tears, clean cuts, neatly added embellishments
Completeness:
Effort:

You will design your own tribal style mask using
metal and markers. Your mask design should have
bold shapes, patterns, and symbolism. It should include animal and human characteristics. It should also be symmetrical. You will be using a technique called foil tooling. Repousse is the technique of pushing the metal back. Counter-repousse is the technique
of flipping the metal over and pushing the metal
forward by pushing from the back.
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