SchoolArts Magazine

Summer 2017

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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16 SUMMER 2017 SchoolArts giant painted balloons made from cow bladders. The term "vejigante" derives from the word vejiga (bladder) and gigante (giant). Historic and Cultural Connections Imagine that you lived long ago, when slavery was still legal throughout the Spanish Empire. You are an Afri - can mask maker, a skilled artist and well-respected member of your com - munity. One day you are kidnapped and brought to Puerto Rico as a slave. While there you encounter native Puerto Ricans (Taíno people) and Spanish traditions, such as Carnivals. Slaves were not allowed to openly practice many of their traditional arts and customs, but the African influence on vejigante masks is unmistakable. The masks are linked to many festi - vals that continue today, especially in Puerto Rico, in the cities of Loíza and Ponce and in the Dominican Republic in the city of Punta Cana. these artists' work to Yoruban masks from Africa. They noticed that both types of masks had distinct horns and were inspired by the faces of ani- mals but, unlike many African masks, Caribbean masks often use vibrant colors and patterns. Mask Making To create a vejigante mask your stu- dents will need 9 x 12" (23 x 30 cm) white paper and tag board, clear and masking tape, scissors, tin foil, news- paper, plaster craft bandages, acrylic modeling paste, acrylic paint, and acrylic gloss medium (such as Mod Podge). Have students first construct practice designs out of white paper to experiment with shapes and forms. Procedures for Students Fold the white paper in half and cut a curved line starting and ending at the fold. To make the eyes, open up the resulting shape and fold the edges When different cultures come together, new ideas blossom. Slav - ery and Spanish colonialism may be part of the Caribbean's past, but the tradition of the vejigante lives on. These mask-making skills have been handed down from generation to generation, dating back to colonial times when African people were first brought to Puerto Rico in chains in the hold of slave ships. Contemporary Mask Makers I introduced my students to contem- porary Puerto Rican mask makers Raul Ayala and Roberto Zach Castro. Ayala practices the ancient craft of constructing vejigante masks from coconut husks. His masks are influ- enced by his multicultural past and family traditions. Castro started out as a graffiti artist before learning to create beautiful, unique vejigante masks out of recycled materials. I asked my students to compare Edward Lopez, grade eight. 16 SUMMER 2017 SchoolArts

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