Plaster masks take shape in Rousseau art class

Fifth-graders in Tabi Zimmerman’s art class at Rousseau Elementary School recently finished what is traditionally a favorite project among her students: the creation of personalized plaster masks.

“Throughout the years I have done this project,  students will say they have kept their masks through high school and longer because they were proud of their work,” said Zimmerman, who has taught with Lincoln Public Schools for 23 years.

Creating the masks was a multi-step process that spanned several weeks, beginning with research about masks throughout various cultures during different periods of history. Students drew at least three ideas for their masks and shared them with classmates to reflect and revise. Over two days, students worked with classmates to make their base plaster masks. Finally, students painted their masks and added any final artistic flourishes based on their designs.

Zimmerman said the mask project pushes students to explore their creativity, problem solving and flexibility.

“This, as with most art challenges, offers students a way to connect their personal interests and ideas with their art,” she said, adding: “The process of creating gives students opportunities to plan, design various outcomes, examine results and make decisions as to what to use in the final design.”

Her students gave the plaster mask project rave reviews, as usual.

  • Amaris: “"I liked this project because using the plaster, making the mask and also experiencing it being made on me was fun and exciting."
  • Gavyn: "In fourth grade I was really looking forward to making plaster masks.  Now when I did it I absolutely loved it! I loved making it with my creativity."
  • Kai: "I like it because it lets us kinda let go and be creative.”
  • Tanea: "I was looking forward to this project because it sounded super fun. Also it was giving us a chance to be creative. I liked the process of it."

Published: February 25, 2019, Updated: February 25, 2019

"Throughout the years I have done this project, students will say they have kept their masks through high school and longer because they were proud of their work."

Tabi Zimmerman, art teacher at Rousseau Elementary