StoryFaces — Mask Art Workshops

Follow-up a StoryFaces Assembly Program with Classroom Workshops

The unique combination of visual and language arts at the heart of StoryFaces and Before Cave Walls… makes this an ideal vehicle for programs on developing communication and critical thinking skills in line with Common Core Learning Standards.

The fascination of students with Christopher’s amazing facepainting allows him to bring in complex educational concepts in an entertaining way for grade levels 3 – 12. A variety of classroom workshops and demonstrations are available including programs to support any mask making projects and interdisciplinary programs combining ELA and Visual Arts in which students write stories and apply critical thinking to synthesize these stories into visual mask designs. Programs include:

•  StoryFaces Mask Arts Projects – telling a story through words and art

•  Designing Tribal Masks – using symbology to bring ideas to life

•  Creating Your Personal Superhero – a motivational mask arts program

•  From Masks to Modern Art – a fascinating art history program for Middle and High Schools

•  World Theatre Makeup – for theatre, art and fashion students

Classroom programs can be custom designed  in consultation with art teachers in support of mask-making projects to fit a school’s curriculum goals.

*** Professional development workshop programs also available for teachers ***

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A Multidisciplinary Approach to Arts-In-Education

All of Christopher’s programs incorporate Visual Arts in direct support of Language Arts and Cultural Studies. Fundamental to his unique hybrid performance art style is its exemplification of the power of art — both Visual and Spoken Word — to convey social information, to retain and synthesize traditional wisdom, and to inspire the viewer/listener. The multidisciplinary example of a visual artist who tells stories through his art is a natural vehicle for generating student Mask Art Projects that also cross disciplines with Language Arts and Social Studies.


Workshop and Demonstration Programs include:


StoryFaces — Follow-up Writing and Mask Art Project

An interdisciplinary program developing ELA Language Arts through Visual Arts, designed to generate student writing projects that are then brought into the art room as the genesis of  mask-making projects — following the methodology Christopher presents in his exciting assembly programs — in a remarkable exploration of communicating ideas through multiple media.

Designing Tribal Masks

This project gives students an experiential understanding of the traditional approach to art in tribal cultures as they apply critical thinking to create an animal mask design using symbols to signify the animal — in a way that even elementary students can understand. This “mask-concept” approach moves the design process away from realism and illustration, into an exploration of communicating through symbolic art and abstraction, and can be a vehicle for creating original mask designs for students with any level of art skills.

Creating Your Personal Superhero

Christopher’s storytelling programs for school aged students include many Hero Tales, a traditional vehicle for inspiring positive action and character building through larger than life role models. Students design a “Superhero Mask” by defining the attributes of their personal heroes and depicting those attributes through colors, iconography and symbols.

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From Masks to Modern Art — for Middle and High Schools

Picasso/Nuba — a synthesis of a Picasso cubist portrait and a traditional design of the Southeast Nuba of Sudan

Picasso/Nuba — a synthesis of a Picasso cubist portrait and a traditional design of the Southeast Nuba of Sudan

This is a unique and fascinating program giving students a vehicle for understanding the origins of Modern Art by exploring how artists such as Picasso, Matisse and Klee found inspiration in the masks, sculptures and bodyarts of cultures in Africa and Oceania as they sought to create more powerful art forms with greater social impact — what the art historians call “Primitivism in Modern Art”. After viewing African sculptures in the Trocadero Musuem, Paris in 1907, Picasso is reported to have said: “Men had made those masks and other objects for a sacred purpose…At that moment I realized that this is what painting was all about…it’s a form of magic…a way of seizing power…When I came to this realization, I knew I had found my way.”

Art changed at the beginning of the 20th century in large part because these early Modern Artists saw that in traditional cultures art was not confined to being beautiful or decorative, but rather that traditional art and artists played a vital role in maintaining the social fabric of the community — that art could have the power to communicate complex social and political ideas and help make a better world.

Christopher Agostino has also explored this seminal moment in art history through a dramatic series of fine art body paintings: Modern Primitive Art

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World Theatre Makeup — for Theatre, Art and Fashion Students

From the very beginning of human culture we have used makeup and masks to transform our appearance and create a new identity. As ancient ritual evolved into theatre, makeup remained as the way for an actor to present an identity beyond their normal self. It is especially evident in non-western theatre, such as the Chinese Opera or Japanese Kabuki in which fantastically painted faces transform performers into gods, demons, heroes and all kinds of creatures to bring myths to life. Today, traditional designs are a source for creating theatrical magic in productions like Julie Taymor’s Lion King (with makeup based on Maasai body art) and in the fantastic special effects makeup that brings aliens and superheroes to life in Hollywood movies. Christopher Agostino uses makeup and mask art from world cultures to present the story of this fundamental art from ancient origins to modern theatre in this fascinating performance/lecture illustrated by his amazing facepainting on audience volunteers.

The participants from a Transformational Makeup lecture at the U.S. Institute of  Theatre Technology Conference (USITT) in Houston, 2008.

The participants from a Transformational Makeup lecture at the U.S. Institute of
Theatre Technology Conference (USITT) in Houston, 2008.


Transformation Facepainting for Arts-In-Education Events

Our professional company of artists present facepainting in an educational context using styles based on World Masks, Tribal Faces, Native American Totem concepts or cultural traditions from regions around the world, such as Dia De Los Muertes or Amazon Indians. The same artists seen at the Bronx Zoo and Tri-State area events can facepaint students to create a uniquely memorable cultural experience that goes far beyond how much fun they will have. Events can be tied into assembly programs and to specific cultural regions or areas of Social Studies.


Makeup Artists for School Theatrical Productions

Transformation Facepainting for a school production of the Lion King

Transformation Facepainting for a school production of the Lion King

Our artists are also available to paint the faces of student performers for theatre productions and other special events. Bringing in professional artists is a thrilling experience for a young actor and a great confidence boost that makes a school production extra special.


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