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Greenbelt play inspires mythical-mask-making workshop


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Photo by Wanda Jackson. Miss Greenbelt, Veronica Handunge, assists participants in the “Mask-making Workshop.”

Photo by Wanda Jackson. Miss Greenbelt, Veronica Handunge, assists participants in the “Mask-making Workshop.”

Published on: Friday, March 08, 2013

By Wanda Jackson

It is an ancient and honored craft that goes back thousands of years. From Neolithic cave paintings, through ancient Greek dramas, to modern-day Mardi Gras parades and Carnivals of Venice, mask-making has played an important and often sacred role in society.

Masks allow us to transform the very nature of our being in new and exciting ways. Through masking, we can explore both our inner- and outer-selves.

On Sunday, artist Holly Vandersommers led a mask-making workshop at Greenbelt’s Artful Afternoon in the Greenbelt Community Center.

Workshop participants made their own mythical nature masks inspired by the Greenbelt Recreation Department’s annual youth musical, “The Joy Gods Return.” The musical is a story about the lives of two people a year after the tragedy of 9/11. Despite being “two hurting people in a hurting city, they discover unexpectedly that joy can bloom again.”

Photo by Wanda Jackson. Mythical masks on display.

Photo by Wanda Jackson. Mythical masks on display.

Vandersommers is lead artist for the musical and in her packed-workshop encouraged participants to “think outside the box,” using organic materials such as leaves and twigs to create mythical creatures based on Greek mythology.

“If you look at all the masks made today, every single one is different,” she said. “Some of them look like birds. Some look like peacocks.”

“There are so many different variations,”” said Vandersommers, who teaches ceramics at the center on weekends and art at three Prince George’s County schools.

One of the people assisting Vandersommers at the workshop was Veronica Handunge, a senior at Eleanor Roosevelt High School and the reigning 2012 Miss Greenbelt.

“Everyone needs to do community service, and, as Miss Greenbelt, I have a lot of opportunity to do that,” Handunge said. “I get to meet different kinds of people and do different kinds of things. I think that’s beneficial to how I see the world and improve my perspective on life.”

For additional information about Artful Afternoon activities and workshops at the Greenbelt Community Center, visit www.greenbeltmd.gov/arts or call 240-542-2060.

Final performances for “The Joy Gods Return,” which is written, produced and directed by Greenbelt-resident Chris Cherry, are Saturday, March 9, at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. at the Greenbelt Community Center. For performance information and tickets, call 240-542-2058 or email cwest@greenbeltmd.gov.

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