On Making Faces

I see faces in everything, in the folds of a curtain, in a pile of rocks. Shapes and shadows transform into eyes, a nose, a mouth. As a sculptor I am fascinated with faces. Simply changing the tilt of an eyebrow can radically change the feeling of a sculpture :

A face can be exaggerated, distorted or reduced to its simplest form and still be recognizable as a face. When you are sculpting a face you are speaking in a visual language that everyone can understand.

My parents are artists who used Halloween as a time to indulge in extravagant design experiments. One year I wanted to be a pirate. I was picturing torn pants, an eye patch, maybe a toy parrot. My father constructed an entire pirate ship complete with sails and an anchor.

In 1988 I was performing in a theatre production of “The Blue Bird,” a fantasy story that required many special effects. The director knew I had made masks with my family and asked me to design masks for the ghost characters. Since then I have designed masks and puppets for theatre companies all over the world.

- Alyssa Ravenwood

Scapin! Radiant Theatre Co. Portland OR. Directed by Alyssa Ravenwood

In 1992 I graduated from the Dell’Arte School of Physical Theatre where I studied mask performance and Commedia Dell’Arte. I now work as a physical theatre director and educator. I enjoy introducing people to mask performance for the first time. Performing in mask ignites a fire in people and I love seeing that fire light in their eyes when they tell me how much fun they had working in mask.

People talk about masks as a method to hide or disguise. I believe the opposite, that wearing a mask is a way to reveal parts of yourself that are hidden behind your everyday face. Masks create an opportunity to explore our sense of self in a new way and release hidden energy.

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