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Behind the Mask: The Art of Conceal and Reveal

Art Education Curriculum on mask making by Jessica Coulson, Strand 2, Unit 1, Grades 6-12
by

Jessica Coulson

on 18 May 2011

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Transcript of Behind the Mask: The Art of Conceal and Reveal

Tlingit men, circa 1900 This is Northwest Coast mask artist, sculptor


...he is a member of the Tlingit (pronounced Klin-kit) tribe native to the area around Alaska... Mardi Gras Mask, contemporary mardi gras "Indian", tribes Dancer in contemporary Tlingit button robe so, do you see any similarities? the main point: masks are a timeless expression of individuality, spirtuality and cultural heritage they are made today as yesterday,
as long as there are sides of ourselves
we wish to conceal and reveal, there will be
masks... Behind the Masks: the art of conceal and reveal what is a mask for anyway? are they designed to: show or Hide ...maybe masks manage
to do a little bit of both... today I want to show you some art and artists that use masks and other ceremonial garb to show or hide themselves... true identities... what are some of the stylistic differences
you can see between
this one and the more traditional mask? this kind of mask is sometimes
worn by a differnt kind of "Indian"... the self identified what can it show ? what can it hide ? this is Tommy in his studio... Tommy Joseph These might be some of Tommy's ancestors This is an example of a traditional style Warrior Mask that Johnny made... what do you think THAT means? these are just a few of
the many ways people
make masks to reveal and
to conceal themselves... are you ready now to make your own? They have never forgotten this support... Mardi Gras is full of secrets and the Mardi Gras Indians are as much a part of that secret society as any other carnival organization. The Mardi Gras Indians are comprised, in large part, of the blacks of New Orleans' inner cities. They have paraded for well over a century...yet their parade is perhaps the least recognized Mardi Gras tradition.

"Mardi Gras Indians--the parade most white people don't see. The ceremonial procession is loose, the parade is not scheduled for a particular time or route...that is up to the Big Chief." - Larry Bannock

Typical Mardi Gras organizations will form a "krewe." A krewe often names their parade after a particular mythological hero or Greek god. The ranking structure of a Mardi Gras Krewe is a parody of royalty: King, Queen, Dukes, Knights and Captains...or some variation on that theme. Many more established Krewes allowed membership by invitation only.

Few in the ghetto felt they could ever participate in the typical New Orleans parade. Historically, slavery and racism were at the root of this cultural separation. The black neighborhoods in New Orleans gradually developed their own style of celebrating Mardi Gras. Their "Krewes" are named for imaginary Indian tribes according to the streets of their ward or gang.

The Mardi Gras Indians named themselves after native Indians to pay them respect for their assistance in escaping the tyranny of slavery. It was often local Indians who accepted slaves into their society when they made a break for freedom. contemporary Mardi Gras Indian Dancer all three of these mask are made to
blend into the colonial style wallpaper... one of them is cracking open to reveal the insides... Venetian masks are a centuries-old tradition of Venice, Italy. The masks are typically worn during the Carnevale (Carnival of Venice), but have been used on many other occasions in the past, usually as a device for hiding the wearer's identity and social status.

The mask would permit the wearer to act more freely in cases where he or she wanted to interact with other members of the society outside the bounds of identity and everyday convention. "Tlingit Suit" Designed by Tommy Joseph ...sometimes traditions change over the years... The Igbo Tribe of Nigeria have a traditonal mask dance in which one of the most humerous is
Onyeocha,the white man, who instead of participating in the dancing just runs around
frantically taking notes and pictures. it's a chance to show a
different face to the world... Do you recognize this kind of Mask? sometimes
people
use masks
to hide their true selves...
while
they
are
having
a
little
fun... Lord and Lady,Carnivale, Venice There are also
non-Traditional
Native masks Dancer in contemporary Mardi Gras Indian costume ...sometimes costumes are for more
than just dressing up... Some people who
use masks and clothes to
express their culture
are offended by the term
"costume" for their
traditional dress... why do you think that might be? PRIDE for some it's a matter of but that doesn't mean people can't have a little fun with their traditions... Onyeocha dancer, Igbo tribe, Nigeria in Venice, Italy, Mardi Gras is as big as in
New Orleans...only they call it... CARNIVALE what do you think these two are saying about
themselves? so may different faces, so little time... What will YOU
conceal or reveal?
Full transcript