Archetype Mask Making Workshop
Last week I had the great pleasure of facilitating a mask making workshop as part of the Mental Health Association’s Caregivers’ Wellness Workshop Series. These Wellness Workshops are a project of the Intensive Family Support Services and are sponsored by United Way of Millburn and was hosted at the Millburn Public Library. I can’t say enough about the IFSS and the amazing programs they offer as a free service for family members of individuals with persistent, severe mental illness. This will be the third series I have participated in and decided to present a brief introduction about universal archetypes as inspiration for mask making. We all then took a few moments to decide which of the archetypes expressed qualities that we related with or desired to personally explore.
Some of the archetypes you may recognize above left are The Warrior, (courageous, brave, protector, victorious) and The Wise Old Man, (patient, experienced, all knowing ). Pictured below in the center you will see The Sun (life giving, energizing, nourishing) and another colorful version of the Wise Old Man, (lower right) whose creator stated her mask had joyful, not somber colors, since she realized during the art making process that there is quite of bit of wisdom housed within the experience of joy.
The Magician, or Alchemist was another popular archetype with the group. The group discussed how this archetype transforms one thing into another thing entirely, like turning metal into gold, perhaps metaphorically turning the suffering of dealing with a loved one’s illness into something precious and full of meaning. The Alchemist mask pictured below incorporates elements from nature like Earth, Air, Fire and Water to communicate that magical quality and power. Participants were provided with a three dimensional paper mache mask base to freely utilize as a blank canvas. Drawing materials of all sorts were at hand: colored pencils, markers, oil pastel and water soluble ink blocks. Tubes of gouache paint were popular and magazines as well as colored and textured papers were cut or torn and glued as collage media. Other materials included feathers, cord, yarn, rope, pipe cleaners, twigs, pussy willow branches, tissue paper and glitter glue.
Above we see another Alchemist mask. The artist used a sheet of poetry with words that appealed to her, reminding her of the power of transformation and of transcendence. We all agreed that alchemy is complicated! Many of us had archetypes that were not precisely identified and instead gathered qualities that we shared about: balance, power, intensity, joy, compassion, optimism, playfulness – to bring forth and express a unique character of our own choosing.
The group was filled with lots of energy and approached the materials fearlessly, without hesitation , and with quite a bit of relish as you can see from our group photo, below. We all agreed that as busy adults, we don’t often give ourselves the time and space to simply play – we would love to have an entire afternoon to work on masks and other projects. There is always so much more to explore and each person is a treasure house of rich imagination, image and meaningful metaphor – the sky is the limit! It was a real pleasure for me to work with such an engaging and warmly connected group of folks.
I personally was exhilarated to step back and see that each artist’s interpretation of a universal archetypal theme is as individual and unique as a snowflake, quite beautiful, and no two alike…