Maria Raducanu
Artist
OP

Thank you Morten! 😊

To some, Halloween is the highlight of fall, and to others – nothing more but yet another commercial holiday. Some are excited for Halloween as a family or community event, others use it as an excuse for extra sweets. My favorite thing about Halloween is the creativity it unleashes in people. The original, beautiful or witty costumes, the decorations and the pumpkin carvings fascinate and inspire me, and are the main reason I’m looking forward to this season.

villafane

Art by: http://villafanestudios.com/

Halloween’s history seems convoluted, but whether we look at the ancient pagan origins, the Christian influence, or the modern consumerist interpretation, it has common elements at its core: reverence for the dead, a celebration of harvest, a fear of starvation amidst the death of nature, and culture represented through tradition and costume. And in tradition and costume, one element shines above all: masks.

masks

So many masks! See them here: https://www.pinterest.com/mariaraducanu/masks/ . I will be updating the board.

More cool masks: https://www.maskmuseum.org/

Why are masks so important, so varied and so omnipresent? I think that it has to deal with the basics of human psychology and facial recognition as a means to survival. In the wonderful book “Understanding Comics” by Scott McCloud (I highly recommend it even if you don’t habitually read graphic novels – it can inspire some artistic paradigm shifts), the author talks about pareidolia. We create the world in our image, and we redefine it to our liking as well. Masks can mirror what we want to represent, they create a role, tell a story, or hide the real face of the wearer. Masks have tremendous cultural significance! Any culture, anywhere in the world, from any time period is going to have recognizable masks with tradition and stories surrounding them.

mccloud

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Understanding_Comics

All that being said about the importance of masks and the significance of facial recognition in human psychology, it is clear why they fascinate me. But there is one mask in particular that I fell in love with when I saw it.

Barong Ket.

2-SACRED-SR_kleaken_001-EDIT

http://media.newmexicoculture.org/photo-library/release/file/detail/2464/440/2

I want to model this beautiful, spooky mask for the Halloween challenge!

I don’t want my project to be a blatant cultural appropriation, but rather an homage to a culture. So I did some research about the origins of the mask, and its meaning. The mask originates in Bali, a province of Indonesia. In short, it represents the king of spirits – although he looks scary, he is actually a benevolent being, a protective animal spirit most commonly associated with the lion or panther, although other types exist. He signifies the eternal struggle of good versus evil, fighting his archnemesis – the demon queen Rangda (she was another option with similar aesthetics that I would love to model, but I preferred Barong’s positive back story) and her Leyak underlings! The mask is related to the Barong dance, and is part of a costume that two people wear. More information about Barong on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barong_(mythology) And some more info here: https://www.thenotsoinnocentsabroad.com/blog/barong-king-of-the-spirits-on-bali or here: https://www.spurlock.illinois.edu/blog/p/barong-ket-gallery/168 or here: https://www.learner.org/courses/globalart/work/4/index.html

At the end of the day, I am a visual artist, impressed by what I see. I want to model a Barong mask because it looks super cool! But this is my thinking and research to the reasons why I chose it over other cool things, what it means to me and what it represents. Thank you!