Earlier this year, in response to a self portrait assignment in my photography class, I spent some time exploring “other selves” using posterboard and sharpies. The project was so much fun, I’ve been wanting to do it with more people. This weekend, I’ll get that chance at a workshop for teens during the annual CHN Homeschool Conference*.

I want to encourage participants to break the “two eyes, a nose and a mouth” template and try out other things. You want to see through your mask, but do you need to see through your character’s eyes? Do they need to be facing forward? Here are a few sketches to challenge our normal approaches to mask making.

mask sketches by Penina S. Finger

If you want to play, you can also do a little research on the internet for masks of different cultures. I love the masks of the Dogon people. Other examples pictured below are Chinese and Native American masks.

masks of different cultures

1. Dogon mask, photo by Castello Sforzesco [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
2. Embroidered Chinese new year masks, photo by Caroline Léna Becker (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
3. Yupic Eskimo mask, photo by User:FA2010 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Not everyone is inspired by black and white, so we’ll have other colors available, along with pencils, posterboard and scissors. Also, if there’s interest and I can get it organized, I’ll try and set up a camera for an hour or so afterwards, so we can take group and individual photos of participants wearing their masks.

Here are the masks I made for my photography assignment.

Masks by Penina S. Finger

Quick followup: click here to see some of the masks the teens created during the workshop.

* CHN is California Homeschool Network. The annual conference is four days of lectures, workshops and a general recharge of our Awesomeness Batteries.

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