Art Class Paints African-Inspired Masks

Posted on February 5, 2021

As part of Black History Month Penn Art teacher Becky Hope had her class studied the work of African American artist and painter Lois Mailou Jones. Jones’ work was heavily influenced by African traditions.

In 1938, she painted “Les Fétiches,” a painting featuring five overlapping masks of five distinct ethnic styles. The work is now part of the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C.

Jones went to Africa for the first time in 1970, at age sixty-five, but the forms, rhythmic cadences, and vibrant color she associated with the ceremonies of Africa infused her art since. Mrs. Hope used this information to guide the students through their mask designs.

After watching archived interviews of Lois Mailou Jones and spending time studying her work, Penn art students hand painted masks of their own.  

For more information on Lois Mailou Jones, click here.

Last Modified January 12, 2022