When students incorporate their visual culture and ethnic culture iconography in their art making, this unit becomes especially powerful as a pathway to self actualization and reflection. Cultural reflection is the foundation for helping a student formulate an awareness of self identity.

There is something seductive about the opportunity to change our identity. I have found students eager to create and use masks to role play, create and act out imaginings, students love to play with changing their identity. I believe masking encourages risk taking because you “become” someone or something else when you don the mask. Every art textbook has a mask lesson. What makes this one different?

My doctoral dissertation was a multi-methodological study that observed a control group (no cultural research) directed to “make a mask that tells something about yourself” and an experimental groupfollowing a unit similar to what you see here in this unit. The control group chose to express themselves in the simplest terms. I fondly came to call the control group “the ball heads” – which predominated. The experimental group produced varied and textual masking interpretations. Encouraging students to incorporate the iconography from their life world will expand their options and development of self-identity.

Please feel free to use my mask unit at:

Hybrid 2


Doctoral Dissertation Performance Mask

 20″ X 20″ X 24

Mixed Media  Clay, fabrics, photo silkscreen, fabric paint

Art a W  foreventron 132

I earned a PhD from the University of Minnesota in 1996. My degree was Curriculum and Instruction but, of course, with a focus on art education.  I  went through most of my course work, worked for them as a teaching assistant and as I was preparing for my final defense, I asked my adviser, “Will I be saying the word “Art” before this experience  is over?”.  She looked at me with disgust. She was the national voice for postmodern art education.  I designed the mask you see here. A casting of my face. The EIC stands for Empirical, Interpretive, Critical Theory.  During my study, I found the jargon unmanageable and organized it into what I referred to as the “Paradigm Charts”.  They outline  three basic world view models.  My philosophy is that people are taught that their truth is THE truth.  If people could just get over themselves and realize there is more than one valid world view, perhaps we might be able to find more harmony on this planet.

If you find this idea intriguing, Click Here for more fascinating details.  I sold them to Pearson Publishing for $10,000.00 dollars.

Art a W  foreventron 133This mask  displays the people, the jargon, my mind exploding with data.
My committee consisted of two women with differing paradigm views officing next to each other and only speaking by email. An anthropologist who  had never taken an art course, a scientist and a philosopher who stepped up when my art specialist dropped dead a month before the defense.  “My question was, ” How do 8th grade students respond when thinking about art, culture and self”.   In a nut shell: boys did not see themselves as becoming an artist more than 2 % of the time. Yet 90 % of our successful chefs, fashion designers, theater/film stars, visual artists and beyond are all men.  How did that happen?  From a statistical point of view?

Mercifully, my dissertation is not available digitally. You could probably order it from the U of M if you are hankering to be overwhelmed with minutia ;/

When you finish your defense, you have to go outside the room like you are in 2nd grade and await their decision.  They can deny you.  All the work, money and time can be for nothing.  They brought me back in the room and passed me my signed “approval” papers.

They asked me if I had a summation statement. Once I had my paw on the paper, I responded,

“If I am ever in the position to review a doctoral candidate, I will never put another human being through what you have demanded from me”?

They looked at each other nervously and said, “That is some of that sardonic Maine humor, right?”

“No”, I responded.  I waited a good thirty seconds while the laughed nervously, again.

“Well, maybe a little”, I said.   You can only be just so truthful in this life.



Cajun 095

Cajun 096


More Pictures
Pictures coming soon!