The Pensacola Museum of Art is hosting a display of African art in addition to the Youth Art Focus exhibit. Many of the items in the display are masks in different styles that are used in different rituals and ceremonies. It includes several different African cultures or tribes.
The Baule culture is one of the African tribes included in the display. Baule carvers are most concerned with showing accurate human and animal features in their sculptures. Carvers are taught through apprenticeship to learn the style, which includes a smooth surface, balanced proportion, clear lines and a slight asymmetry.
The arched eyebrows and eyes are nearly closed. This is a sign of respect. In African culture, when a youth or subordinate appear in front of an elder, king or wise man, they will look downward to show respect.
Baule portrait masks detail the facial features of eyes, eyebrows, nose, mouth and eyes. The hair and beard are made from raffia. The carved ovals on the cheeks are scarification, scars made in a ceremony when a boy comes of age and is considered a man. A beard indicates that person is an elder, someone who has created a family, or someone who deserves respect that comes with age and wisdom.
Children in first and second grade can make their own masks to represent the people in their family who deserve respect. To make a mask, you will need:
- Paper plate
- Paper punch
- Yarn or string
- Rug yarn, raffia or paper Easter grass
African masks are attached to the head with a loop of string. The string is tied to the mask on the right and left, and then tied on the back of the head. If the mask is to be worn, attach string to the plate in this way. If the mask is to be used as a wall hanging, use a paper punch to make a hole near the rim of a paper plate at the top. Pass a piece of string through the hole, and tie the ends with an overhand knot, to make a hanger.
Draw a face on the mask with markers. Facial features can also be made by gluing pre-cut paper shapes to the plate. Try to make the face look like the family member the student wants to honor.
Save small pieces of yarn from other projects, or use pre-cut rug hooking yarn. Apply a glue stick to the paper plate, near the rim, about half the way around the plate’s edge, with the hanging hole at the top. Press yarn pieces into the glue. Add more yarn for a beard or mustache, if the family member has one.
Sunshine State Standards
VA.C.1.1.1 Knows that specific works of art belong to particular cultures, times and places.
- The student used a paper punch to make holes in the paper plate, in the location needed.
- The student used care and control when applying glue.
- The student made the face look like someone in their family.
- The student placed the hair and facial features in the proper locations.
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