Fletcher Elementary School students in Janet Gould’s art classes are learning a bit more about Western and Central African countries; learning about the artists who create the masks, and also about the ceremonies, and traditions of the people there.
“The idea came about to showcase art in other cultures and how it compares to students’ own experiences,” said Ms. Gould. “The mask is a powerful instrument in African culture. It is not a toy. Many of the students only knew masks from Halloween or other U.S. holidays. Along with the art skills emphasized, I wanted the students to understand the importance of this art form and how it has changed over the years.”
Students especially focused on symmetry and geometric shapes, along with working intense color. The student added pattern and repetition to their masks and emphasized certain features based on color. Fourth graders also study Native Americans so Ms. Gould was able to link the classroom unit to the African mask art unit.
“I didn’t know that they used the masks to communicate with their ancestors,” said fourth grader Ella Smith. “I love art because you get to let out your creativity and it just looks so cool. My favorite type of art is sketching in black and white because sometimes art doesn’t need color. But I love all art.”