Exploring the Landscape of Our Mind

By Vieth, Ken | School Arts, October 1996 | Go to article overview
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Exploring the Landscape of Our Mind


Vieth, Ken, School Arts


"The screen `skin' on the mask represents a mechanism of protection through which I sift out possibly damaging ideas or actions of other people. I let only a very selective group of people get close to me. The silver and copper wires woven through the screen represent the structure and order within my life as well as my flexibility. The blue and green eyes represent how I feel I'm perceived by different people depending on how well they know me. The shells seen in the mouth represent my emotions, moveable and behind the screen. They represent that I can express a wide range of emotion, but they appear blurred to people who try to see through the screen. The colored paper inside my mask represents the flexibility of my mind. My mind is very complex, like a cavern to be filled with ideas. The bright colors represent my positive attitude towards life."-- Josh Jones, grade eleven

"The overall image of the skull represents getting attention and having fun by doing destructive acts. The multiple screws in the mask represent both the increasing pressure from the outside world and the pressure I put on myself for ideas. Due to this pressure, I keep my feelings and ideas inside which is represented by the cages in the eyes. Because of this, no one sees to the inside. The rings are what lead me to follow others while the white teeth stand for some quality of my individuality."-- Eric Bennett, grade ten

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[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The face we express to the outside world is not necessarily the one that is on the inside. We as humans are drawn to appearances. The sharing of our internal psychological framework is rare. As an educator focusing on all the varied aspects of teaching, I realize my students rarely get to see beyond that surface or have the opportunity to reflect on other levels of their developing personality. The longer I teach high school the more I realize that there is an untapped richness and depth in the students we teach. We have an opportunity to learn more about each other and ourselves by providing experiences that foster trust and revelation.

Revealing Personal Qualities

Careful thinking goes into creating a visual problem that leads to greater exposure of personal qualities. For this process, I chose the concept of making a mask. A mask can hide or disclose as well as exagerate many aspects of the subject it represents. Because masks have been used for centuries and in all cultures as a means of expression, it seemed to be the best choice for revealing personal qualities.

I asked the students to develop a mask that would incorporate five aspects of their personality. To begin, we discussed personality qualities. I asked the students, "What do you know about yourself on a psychological level?", "What are various aspects of yourself no one else sees?", and "How could you use form, color, and texture to best represent that part of you?" Next, the students viewed a variety of masks from different cultures (South America, Africa, the Pacific Islands).

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