September 14, 2016, BY Paula Cogan Myers

What class? Arts Residential College Foundation Seminar: Masks and Meaning

Who teaches it? Professor Elaine Williams, Theatre & Dance  

"Creative process is central to this hands-on studio class in mask design and mask making, including classes in clay sculpting, crafting masks with papier-mâché and thermoplastic, and painting and decorating masks.  

"In this course, we ask the questions:

  • What is the transformational power of the mask?
  • Which societies keep mask traditions alive through religious ritual, community celebration and/or artistic expression?
  • How do these communities imbue masks with spirit?   

"Our goal is discovery using the mind, eye, hand and body. Students don't need to have previous experience, but all use their creative imagination to learn about mask design, drawing, sculpting and movement to complement traditional reading, research and writing.   

"Students begin by studying their own masks of social identity through discussion and collage self-portrait. We explore social identity and ritual healing in our contemporary community through collaboratively creating original masks. The class experience encourages self-discovery and many students explore their own cultural heritage.    

"Societal values are revealed through the unique traditions of masked ritual and performance that we explore. Movement workshops focus on Japanese noh performance and the contrasting performance style of Italian commedia dell'arte. Each student sculpts a mask reflective of a specific commedia character and uses the features they create to lead an improvisational performance.  

"Students who take the class are often surprised that everyone can draw. They also find that everyone can discover something about themselves through movement in mask. Making and moving bring visual and textual research to life."  

See what else Bucknell offers in the Department of Theatre & Dance and learn more about the Residential Colleges.  

Bucknell is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Residential Colleges, a hallmark of the Bucknell experience.