Ben Hillyer | The Natchez Democrat — Morgantown School eighth graders from Anne Bailey’s art class created masks that are now displayed at the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians.

Bright Future: Mask contest sparks class’ artistic nature

Published 12:01am Thursday, January 31, 2013

NATCHEZ — The white cotton balls glued to the edges of Earl Jackson’s art project help remind him of snow filled winters in his hometown of Chicago.

Those are snows Jackson, 13, rarely sees around Natchez, but something the Chicago native just can’t go without each winter season.

So when it came time for the Morgantown Middle School eighth grader to create a Native American mask for his art class, Jackson said he chose to blend nature and animal — two of the three spirits students had to choose from — to create his project.

“I kind of mixed the animal spirit with the nature spirit to make a fox with snow all around his face,” Jackson said. “I miss the snow and the cold weather from Chicago, so that helped bring some of that to Natchez.”

Jackson, along with approximately 100 other students in Anne Bailey’s art class at Morgantown, created the masks to be displayed as part of a contest at the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians.

Bailey said the mask project took the students three weeks and is the first major art project of the year. The project is also one that helps boost their confidence for future projects.

“I think it’s rewarding for them to start from the beginning with a basic sketch and then see the completed product,” Bailey said. “At that point, you can really see some of them start thinking about art in a more serious way.”

After students sketch out their initial ideas on paper, Bailey said it’s up to them to decide what kind of materials they want to use.

Eighth-grader Jaylan Green used feathers, cardboard, leaves and water colors to create her totem pole, which was actually a combination of three different masks stuck onto a paper towel tube.

“I made a mask last year, but I didn’t like the way it turned out,” Green said. “When Mrs. Bailey said we could do a totem pole that sounded a lot more fun than just one mask.

“I also wanted to do something better than I did last year.”

For Green, the hardest part of the project came in building the three-dimensional model rather than drawing the sketch.

“I like drawing and sketching more than anything, so that wasn’t hard for me,” Green said. “But building the mask was hard because we had to do it all on our own.”

All of the students’ masks are on display at the Grand Village, which is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Judges will award certificates to students whose masks place in first, second or third place for each category.