Parkrose High mask-making project reveals students’ talents

Perhaps you, too, will be interested to learn that face masks have far more meaning than simply being costume cover-ups for Halloween. See what we learned about mask-making, from Parkrose High’s innovative art instructor …

Parkrose High art instructor, Bev Cordova, gives practical tips for mask-making during her Elements of Design Class.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
When we were invited to Bev Cordova’s “Elements of Design” art class at Parkrose High School to learn more about the craft of making face masks, we agreed – thinking the story might produce some interesting photographs.

Instead, we were fascinated to learn why Cordova uses this process as part of a beginning art class.

“Our section on mask-making starts with an art history piece,” Cordova began. “Mask-making is a way of showing how art developed throughout the entire world, over time.”

While part of the class focuses on learning the craft of mask-making, students also learn about the rich history of masks from all cultures, including their own.

Cordova explains, “Mask-making is a very interesting phenomenon in the art world. Masks have been made by all peoples, throughout the world – and all at about the same point in their development. And so, for that reason, there are a lot of masks types to study.”

In Australia, people may have made their masks a thousand years later than European cultures did, we learned. But it seems that every culture’s social development involves making masks.

Parkrose High sophomore Evelyn Perez successfully completes another step, while creating her mask.

Using balloons, paper Mache, masking tape ,and newspaper, these young artists embark on creating their mask masterpieces.

“I show students images of masks from around the world,” Cordova continued. “I try to show masks from every culture representative of our school’s students – and we have many different cultures, here Parkrose. It’s a nice tie-in for those kids with their native culture. In turn, they find ways to tie their culture to themselves through their masks.”

Says art enriches students’ educational experience
To her, art instruction is more than just a craft class, Cordova smiled. “In a project like this, it’s all about learning how to do problem solving. Students have to evaluate the overall shape of the mask, figure out how to make individual pieces – and how to hold them together.

“Problem-solving is one of those skills we use every day in life – whether you’re going to be an engineer, teacher, social worker, or garbage collector, it’s all about problem-solving.”

Masks from the class will be peer-judged, Cordova said. “Look for them to be on display at Parkrose area businesses.”

Freshmen Sam Shepard and Chad Lott help each other create the framework for their masks.

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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