Roger Williams Middle School eighth grade students of Ms. Nora's one hour ESL class and Ms. Baldwin's N team art class collaborated on this mask making project. ESL students whose families are from the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Peru, Guatamala, Mexico, Venezuela and Puerto Rico researched masks in their cultures and presented their research to Ms. Baldwin's art class. Together they created the original designs you see here. Some of these masks were exhibited at the Rhode Island School of Design's Free For All Saturday, To Mask and Masquerade exhibit on Halloween.
Text by Ms. Nora, December, 1998
We are displaying the masks on this website because we want to teach you about our cultures and show you how we made these masks. We made the masks to learn more about our cultures, to remember what our ancestors did in the past and to tell people about our cultures. To research masks in our cultures we interviewed our families and staff at Roger Williams. Nuri, the secretary at Roger Williams who is from the Dominican Republic, came to our class and she told us the history of the masks in her city, Santiago, the Dominican Republic. She showed us two masks from there. One student asked Mr. Guillen about the use of the masks in his native country, Cuba. We also went to the library and used the internet and looked at masks from Venezuela, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.
Masks are used in our countries and in the United States. In some countries the celebration then they use masks is called Carnaval. In the United Stated we use masks on Halloween. The masks represent different things in different places. Masks are often used to hide peoples identity. In Santiago, the Dominican Republic, people from two different barrios used to fight in the street. People wore masks to hide their identity when they fought. Now, they still wear the masks, but they do not fight. In some places masks represent animals. Masks from Puerto Rico, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic have horns. Masks from Mexico and Guatemala have animal features.
Text from 8th Grade ESL class