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Man Ray, Masks, and Ancient Egypt

School News March 08, 2019
Man Ray, Masks, and Ancient Egypt

Grade 4 pupils have been studying the famous artist Man Ray and his iconic photograph Noir et Blanche. Pupils were expected to create a research page in their sketchbook dedicated to Man Ray, including a brief graphite study on the mask featured in Noir et Blanche

As the next part of our project, we began looking more closely at masks. Masks are both functional and artistic objects, that often hold great cultural and personal meaning. We took some time to study one very famous type of mask and its cultural significance, the Ancient Egyptian Death Mask.

Our next step was to complete a brief study of the masks. For this, we practiced and learned how to draw using ink pens. Each pupil was assigned a different mask and asked to reproduce it using just an ink pen.

Having learned about the personal significance of a Death Masks, pupils were then asked to consider what their own Death Masks might look like and to create a design in their sketchbooks. 


Once our designs were complete, our next step was to build the masks that we had designed. For many young artists this can be the trickiest step of all. Transferring an original idea from a two-dimensional drawing into a three-dimensional sculpture requires careful attention to detail and a great deal of patience. As part of the sculptural process, our pupils practiced and learned safe techniques for building with cardboard using both utility knives and hot glue guns. Pupils were then able to complete their masks using acrylic paint. 

Finally, to round out the unit, we revisited Man Ray’s Noire et Blanche and talked more about photography. Pupils were then given an opportunity to practice their new photography skills and worked in groups to recreate Man Ray’s Noire et Blanche as well as their own original pieces all featuring their Death Masks.

As you can see, our grade 4 pupils have been working very hard and have really enjoyed themselves. I look forward to seeing the amazing work they produce in their next project!