RCASA’s Art Therapy Thursday: Masks

In Advocacy, Art therapy on April 15, 2010 at 8:00 am

Oscar Wilde wrote, “Give an Man a Mask and He’ll tell you the truth”.
Masks are seen in various cultures across the world. All have different functions, if it be decorative or ceremonial, based on culture but typically a mask is used to express a concept, thought, or emotion. Masks inherently cover , therefore providing protection to the wearer. That feeling, of protection and safety, can help individuals become expressive. Sometimes the expression is something  that they previously feared to express, and other times the expression comes from the unconscious.
Masks can be used in the Art Therapy Process in a variety of ways. Masks can be pre-made and offered to individuals to change and mold as they wish, masks can be made from scratch or masks can be formed on the individual and made to fit specifically to their face. The process of creating the mask actually begins a process of uncovering. In an ironic fashion the item that is meant to hide or cover can actually reveal someones true self.  The mask begins to offer individuals an opportunity to provide themselves with a voice. The mask takes on a persona they want to portray or provides that sense of safety so they can become less restricted and begin to be expressive.  Art is unbiased and does not lie, it truthfully reflects your inner self or as Henry ward Beecher said, “Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures”.


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