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Mask Making: More than a "Fraction" of Art
Mask Making: More than a "Fraction" of Art
Aaron Jones
Wednesday, February 26, 2020

This week the 4th grade class visited the Community Creative Center in Fayetteville as part of an arts integration project. Students in Mrs. Gibbons math classes have been learning about fractions.To measure their skills and comprehension of fractions the students participated in an arts integration project. The classes were introduced to the art of mask making by looking at specific African cultures that produce masks for ceremonial purposes. Students looked closely at four distinct styles of masks created by different cultures on the West coast of Africa.

Studying the various masks students recognized that each tribal community used fractions as a method to divide the masks into fields for decorative purposes. The elongated Ngil masks of the Fang tribe divide their masks into two distinct halves, yet each half was further divided into sections for embellishment. While the Bwa masks produced by the people in Mali use a series of thirds to designate facial features and specific bands of color.  

Each student selected a type of mask and studied the sections of decoration. Using fractions they determined the value of each section of the mask. Students were then asked to sketch a version of the mask they selected and to use their gained knowledge of fractions to designate specific areas for color and embellishment.  

As a final project the class visited the Community Creative Center where teaching artists taught the students how to create a mask from clay using the slab technique. Using their knowledge of fractions and their sketches as a guide each student created a mask inspired from a specific African culture.