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International Friday: Masks, From Ritual and Cultural Signifiers to Protective Equipment

This week’s International Friday, showcases the craft and creativity surrounding masks used around the world for cultural purposes, including rituals, as well as those recently created by our students and faculty for protective purposes. This invites us to think about masks beyond the context of our current global pandemic and to appreciate the traditions and stories behind them.

Masks as Wearable Sculptures: Seakguech Sok’21

Mask As part of her Intro to Sculpture class, Guech Sok made this beautiful wearable mask sculpture using wire, tape and recycled buttons.

 

Mask


Luba Mask, Congo: Marjorie Brackett, Logan Museum of Anthropology 

Luba Mask

“The Anthropological Research in my museums class has allowed me to study this incredible mask and research the source community the mask participated in. This mask is associated with the Luba tribe from the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly known as Zaire), and masks like this have been used for hundreds of years and are still used today. The mask’s design, style, and decoration act like a code, hiding secrets for the different secret organizations among Luba people, and is worn during initiation ceremonies. The mask announces to outsiders that the wearer shares the secret that only other members know; the more obscure and ambiguous the design, the greater the secret. Secrets among groups act as a boundary between people, and the secrets a person knows reflects the power a person has within the Luba tribe’s community.”


Inti Raymi Masks from Ecuador: Maria Elvira Lopez’21

 

Diablo Huma, Ecuador Diablo Huma (pictured at left) is the most important character of the Inti Raymi celebration for Andean Indigenous communities in Ecuador. His name translates into “head devil” as he symbolizes the knowledge that comes from duality and complementary forces. The “diablo huma” mask always has two faces, one in the front and one in the back. 

 

Inti Raymi mask

 

Aruchicos (pictured at right) wear hats decorated with colored strings, a big handkerchief, and a mask. They are in charge of leading the music during the Inti Raymi celebrations 


Vejigante: Puerto Rico, Sylvia Lopez, Modern Languages and Literatures

Puerto Rico Originally “a figure of mystery and mischief in carnivals and festivals in Puerto Rico, the Vejigante has developed into a symbol of cultural identity, resilience, and resistance.” (Taller Puertorriqueño). The vejigante mask is made of either papier-mâché or coconut shells.

 


Screen Printed, Machine-Sewn Mask Collaboration: Eva Haykin’21, Kerry Randazzo’20

Gingko Masks by Eva Haykin and Kerry Randazzo These beautiful Gingko patterned masks were made from the artistic collaboration between Eva Haykin, who designed and screen printed the fabric, and Kerry Randazzo, who sewed them.

Gingko Masks by Eva Haykin'21 and Kerry Randazzo'20 Credit: Eva Haykin

Gingko Masks by Eva Haykin and Kerry Randazzo Credit: Eva Haykin


Wear A Mask!: Logan Museum of Art Exhibit

Wear A Mask! celebrates and supports Indigenous artists and visually reinforces the necessity of ... “Wear A Mask! celebrates and supports Indigenous artists and visually reinforces the necessity of wearing masks during COVID-19. If you have not yet seen them in person, come to the lobby of the Logan Museum of Anthropology, in the Godfrey building.”

Wear A Mask!


COVID-19 Masks: Alexis Grosofsky, Psychology

Masks

“Here are two photos of masks that I’ve made. One photo shows the various designs and fabrics I used on the outside; the other shows fabrics used on the inside.”
Masks

 

Sylvia Lopez: This is a photo of masks that Prof. Alexis Grosofsky made for me. Thanks, Ale... Sylvia Lopez: "This is a photo of masks that Prof. Alexis Grosofsky made for me. Thanks, Alexis!"

 


Calacas: Mexican Skulls: Gisela Sandoval Saravia’22

Calaca, Mexican mask “A skull is the representation of remembrance and death. It reminds us that physical life ends but the spirit continues to be alive through remembrance.”

Skull masks are common in Mexico during Day of the Dead celebrations. 


Embroidered Mask: Jennifer Esperanza, Anthropology

 

Professor Esperanza “Here’s a picture of a mask that I recently embroidered.”


Fasching:  Elizabeth Brewer, International Education

German Fasching MaskFasching begins on the 11th day of the 11th month at 11 minutes after 11:00 p... Fasching begins on the 11th day of the 11th month at 11 minutes after 11:00 pm and ends at midnight on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. Most events take place in February and March in the form of carnivals and parades of masked figures.

 

Fasching parades take place primarily in Catholic areas of Germany, as well as in Austria and Swi...

Fasching parades take place primarily in Catholic areas of Germany, as well as in Austria and Switzerland. Both groups and individuals, as seen here, participate. Most parades take place in the final days before Ash Wednesday, when a period of fasting begins.
Also known as Karneval and Fasnacht, Fasching is a time to poke fun, break rules, and make new rules.


Namahage: Jim Rougvie, Geology

Ron Watson and Kate Linnenberg as Namahage during a faculty development trip to Akita Prefecture,... Credit: Jim RougvieThe Oga Peninsula in Akita Prefecture, Japan, is home to the Namahage ritual, in which young men reenact New Year’s Eve visits by ogre-like deities. This cultural practice has been recognized by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The Namahage visit the homes of children to scare them into behaving well in the coming year. The mask-making traditions and the Namahage visits are threatened by aging, depopulation, and out-migration.

In a multi-year project, Beloit College faculty and students have visited Oga Peninsula as part of the Landscapes in Transition program. There they study the ways in which geoheritage and cultural heritage tourism can help support rural sustainability.  Seen in the photo are Profs. Ron Watson and Kate Linnenberg dressed as Namahage during a faculty development trip to Akita Prefecture.


Homemade masks: Jade Vangeisen’ 24 Home made masks

First year student Jade Vangeisen wearing a mask she sewed herself. Jade has been selling her masks to other Beloit students. They feature all kinds of patterns and designs. 


Ravenclaw Mask: Shannon Fie, Anthropology

During covid, I've been tapping the 3-D printing skills of my partner, Rod, to make me ... “During covid, I’ve been tapping the 3-D printing skills of my partner, Rod, to make me some fun PPE. In Mod 1, it was a Wonderwoman face shield, and this is what I am wearing during Mod 2 (go Ravenclaw!).”


María Elvira López’21
November 13, 2020

Contact:

brewere@beloit.edu

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