Mask Artisans - Elementary School Ponders Current Issues Through Art 

  • Elementary School
Mask Artisans - Elementary School Ponders Current Issues Through Art 

SSIS Elementary School art teacher, Regina Maniaci, believes that good art comes from within. That’s why she often asks her students about their thoughts and feelings as they create their work.

Ms. M, as she is known to students believes that art can not only help us get through hard times, but it is also an important record of history through the views and ideas of the artist. It was with this in mind, that Ms. M came up with the “Mask Design Project” where students could focus on a creative response to being human and to going through a tough time. “Art can permeate the very deepest part of us, where no words exist,” is a favorite quote of hers, from the author Ellen Millar. An artistic release can be therapeutic.

Kicking off the mask project after spring break with the prompt “...just because you have to wear a mask, doesn’t mean you can’t do it in style!” Ms. Maniaci says the project was a way to check-in with students to see where their thinking and emotions were. Children might not always be able to express them in words due to a lack of experience or vocabulary. “I think it is important to have students connect to the real world (and their interpretation of it) to get the most out of their art education,” says Ms. M. And what better way to combine art and the real world, at this time, than a project decorating face masks?

Art can be seen as a record of history. This mask showing opposing sentiments depending on which side the mask is viewed from is an interesting snapshot.

From serene ocean depictions and quirky organic patterns to innovative masks with that change as the mask expands, the submissions were thoughtful and creative. In addition to the mask design, Ms. M sent her students (grade 2 - grade 5) the following - “If we were in class, we would have a class discussion on what you've been thinking about the past few weeks.  Since we're not, I created a template for you to show me your mask design and talk about what is making you happy and what is making you worry these days.” 

Just some of the creative submissions from students in Ms. M's grade 2 - 5 art classes.

Students truly enjoyed this creative outlet, some, like fifth-grader Selha, so much that she's been inspired to continue creating masks for others. See her process in the video below. 

And overall, students embraced the opportunity to make their voices heard, conveying feelings of gratitude and fun, as well as some of the things that they are currently worried about:

Jihu, G2 - Designing the mask was really fun. I am worried about Europe and America because they don’t have enough masks.
Katie, G4 - I am happy that I can do Google Meet with me, teacher, classmates, and friends even at home. I am worried that a lot of people got the virus and that we cannot go to school. 

Zahra, G5 - This is my mask design. If you want to know what I drew, I drew cocoa beans because I love chocolate and I wanted to draw something that makes me happy, and nothing can make me happier than a piece of chocolate. I worry about COVID-19, school, friends, and family.
Julia, G4 - Ocean creatures make me very happy. It makes me worried that some of the ocean creatures are endangered.
Duy, G5 - I am happy that I don’t have corona and that I can learn online. I am worried that I have corona and that I can’t exercise.
Mayya, G4 - What makes me happy, my mask looks amazing. What makes me worried - that we are going to sit at home for the rest of the year.
Dongwoo, G4 - It makes me happy when I eat fresh fruit like oranges. I am worried about COVID and wish it ends soon.

And yes, like fourth-grader, Dongwoo, we all wish it ends soon! But until then, we look forward to sharing more examples of our resilient students continue to thrive creatively and academically in Virtual School. 

Author: Tanya Olander
Communications Officer


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