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Make a Mask – Express Yourself!

Helena Public School educators explored the art of shadow masks and self-expression last Tuesday night at The Myrna Loy with teaching artists Retta Leaphart and Kevin Casey. This workshop was the first in a series of professional development opportunities that The Myrna Loy will be presenting this year in partnership with the Helena School District, and what a hit it was! Teachers spent the evening creating, laughing, and collaborating with one another as they played with shadow and light and built masks that expressed some part of their inner landscape.

As part of our Arts and Mental Health Initiative, these workshops are designed to benefit teachers across all grades and subject areas by providing them with collaborative and uplifting experiences that allow them to release some of the stress of the classroom while also inspiring them professionally to take some of this new learning – be it social/emotional or curricular – back into their classrooms.

Teachers were thrilled by this mask-making workshop and had this to say:

“It meant a lot to me to attend this workshop because I don’t often have a chance to express myself through art.”

“I feel rejuvenated to go back to my classroom… knowing I possess this innate creativity and light. Thank you!”

“I think the shadow masks could be a great collaboration between my photo class and art class, or even theater.”

“I can see a lot of applications for literature students… inhabiting characters, moving their bodies, and freeing their inner selves with some play.”

“I will do this activity with my students. We are always coming up with new ways to process and share experiences and this is a powerful way to express internal landscapes.

“I feel back in my body! Getting to move and laugh and create was such a balm.”

Special thanks to the teachers who came out to make this night possible and to the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation for their grant support.

Photo credit: Retta Leaphart and Mia Crivello


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