After two years of no international travel, Associate Dean of UTeach Fine Arts Roxanne Schroeder-Arce ventured with nine students to Mexico City for the Maymester study abroad program Engaging the Arts as Audience: Mexican Art and Youth. In the course students explored what it means to pay rigorous attention to others and themselves in the space of live performance and visual art exhibitions.
One of the program’s guest teachers was multidisciplinary artist Daniel Loyola, who led the students in a weeklong workshop focused on mask making and identity. He asked the students to think of an animal they were feeling drawn to at that moment, considering how they relate to each individual’s identity. From there, the students sketched out how they wanted their masks to look and constructed them with found materials such as cardboard, painter’s tape and natural fibers. Loyola wanted the students to become one with the animal and to explore their relationship to the world through their art. Loyola then directed students in a “mask ritual,” with students moving around the room wearing their masks and embodying their chosen animal, almost in a meditative way.
Trinity Gordon, a fourth-year Theatre Education major, chose a duck as her animal because in raising ducks, she has found them to be beautiful and extraordinary creatures.
“It was really amazing,” Gordon said. “The moment of being completely transformed into your mask was almost like your mind is completely blank and your body is just moving to the different prompts and the rhythm of what your animal is. The mask-making experience helped me to look at parts of my identity that I have been reluctant to examine before. It also helped the class to further nurture our community as we explored Mexico together.”
— Cami Yates