CFA conference explores the intersection of women and theater masks – The Daily Free Press
Mask art – from oversized artistic heads and masked portraits to theatrical masks – is featured in performance art around the world. A recent four-part Boston University symposium focused specifically on female figures in the world of theatrical masks.
The College of Fine Arts hosted the second weekend of its four-weekend conference on October 30 and 31 titled âWomen and Masks: An Arts-Based Research Conferenceâ. The October Symposia brought together over a dozen different mask makers, puppeteers and artists.
Felice Amato, conference director and assistant professor of arts education at CFA, said she was inspired to create it to explore how women in performance and masks intersect.
Most of the female roles in the storytelling center around their relationship with other male characters or their sexuality and appearance, she said. Masks have become a âreally powerful research toolâ for exploring female characters.
âWe started talking about this research idea, but also maybe creating a series of masks that specifically explore the female universe,â Amato said. “Instead, you sometimes find that female characters, at least traditionally, have often been foils for men, intrigues for men.”
For last weekend’s conference, Amato said events focused on masks as a “transgressive tool” for the transformation of a woman in theatrical performance, society and spirituality.
âThe witch, for example, like this archetype that breaks social norms and can allow some freedom vis-Ã -vis women,â Amato said. “Although it could also be a box, as people have pointed out, but there is a freedom to take on this abject transgressive character.”
One of the workshops at the conference on Saturday introduced Chiara Durazzini, artistic director and co-founder of the Commedia dell’Arte Pazzi Lazzi troupe, who shared her work as a masked actress in three parts with an interactive experience on the way to move the body and occur when wearing a mask.
Durazzini and Amato both emphasized the representation of female bodies when the face is covered with a mask.
âWhat happens with the female body when it is masked? said Amato. âIf you sometimes think of the objectification of a woman and her body or her face, what happens when they wear a maskâ¦ Does hiding something make something else visible?
Another presenter, Kate Kretz, Assistant Associate Professor at Montgomery College, added how masks and other works of art help represent voices and opinions on social topics in the modern world.
Kretz added that she creates masks and other forms of artwork to make political statements. His presentation was called “MAGA Mask: Social Murder during the Trump Regime”, referring to the term “social murder” coined by Frederick Engels, and also was inspired by a collection of counterfeit “Make America Great Again” hats in course to remake them as “physical manifestations of truth.”
His work, which reworked the letters on counterfeit hats to say “social murder” on face masks as well as the red hoods of the Ku Klux Klan, got him banned from Instagram and Facebook.
âMy only fear is that my cry isn’t loud enough, not bad enough,â Kretz said during his presentation on Saturday. âWe are living at a pivotal moment in our history. Historians speak out to tell us that the current American environment is one they have seen before, identical to the governments that have committed some of mankind’s worst atrocities.
The talk also featured Deborah Hunt, mask maker, performer and puppeteer, who discussed her career experience and working with the group Papel Machete on a project called âThe Eve of Abolitionâ.
Hunt said that through the mask-making and lecture, she hopes her efforts create an impactful experience for those who see her performances and works.
âI wish people could appreciate the complete worlds that I strive to create with masks,â Hunt said. “Maybe if I’m lucky, [people] might see it differently.
Hunt also said how interested she was to see how the conference focused on women in the theatrical mask industry.
âI watched the sessions last September and it’s so interesting, because everyone has such a drastically different approach,â Hunt said.
Eleonora Mancuso, a doctoral student at the College of Arts and Sciences, translated for Italian presenter Nora Fuser on Sunday, said Mancuso said the conference’s overall focus on women in theater had left its mark.
“Each [event] includes women in the theater, which most of the time you really don’t see, âMancuso said. âFrom the point of view of French literature, we never really talk about the female character, we only talk about men and men were mostly represented on stage.
Mancuso said the conference took her out of her field of French literature, where she earned a doctorate.
âFor me, it’s to get away from the world of literature,â Mancuso said. âI’m still in the arts but I can see how women are not only portrayed in literature but also in theater and how they are able to find a voice.
The third weekend of the conference will be February 11-13, and Amato and his team will partner with the Center for African Studies on campus.