Sun, The (Lowell, MA)

February 19, 2009
Section: Local

The Faces of Fun

   Anthony Geehan, Sun Staff

The Beaton sisters from Dracut show off the colorful masks they made as part of the Masks From Around the World class at the Brush Art Gallery & Studios. This class is part of Kids' Week put on by the Lowell National Park Service.


LOWELL -- The floor and tables of the small art room were covered from corner to corner with construction paper, glue, markers and tinsel.

Amid the mess, five students worked to piece together masks of their own creation out of the materials provided.

It's the final part of the Masks From Around the World program, which is part of the Lowell National Park Service's Kid's Week. The weeklong set of programs is designed to coincide with February vacation and includes arts and crafts, movies and other kid-friendly activities.

This particular class is run by Lolita Demers, a Methuen resident and art teacher at the Morey Elementary School in Lowell.

"I show the kids the techniques on how to make the masks," Demers said. "But mostly they use their own skills and imaginations to create their own designs."

The class began with a quick overview of the history of masks and examples of how they are used around the world. Demers showed examples of homemade masks in the style of Chinese, ancient Egyptian, Cambodian and African design.

The majority of the two-hour class revolved around the kids putting together different masks for themselves.

"The kids enjoy exploring the random materials and seeing what they could do with all the options," Demers said.

Along with Demers, some parents were present to watch over the kids. Among them was Barbara Beaton of Dracut, a parent professional at the St. Louis School in Lowell. Sitting with her two daughters, Madeline and Sarah, she helped create masks that the two girls planned to give to their father as presents.

"We found this program in the local paper," Beaton said, "and it's been a real joy being here and having the girls make these masks."

While this was the first time at a Kid's Week activity for most of the kids, some have been participating since the events began Saturday.

"Yesterday, I learned how to knit," said Olivia Morency, a seventh-grader at the Butler Midde School. "I had a lot of fun here, and I'm going to come back for the rest of the week."

By the end, the kids had made themselves two masks each, one a fully covering paper mask and the other a plastic domino mask.

"I'm going to give one to my friend," said Yushai Canteenwala, 9, of Lowell, who was with his cousin, Yusuf Buxamusa, 9, of Westford. "The other one I'm going to hang on my wall in my room."

Kid's Week will continue through Saturday. For more information, call (978) 970-5000.

At left, Yusuf Buxamusa, 9, of Westford, wears his mask, while, above, his cousin, Yushai Canteenwala, 9, of Lowell makes a mask for Yusuf.


Instructor Lolita Demers helps Olivia Morency, 13, of Lowell construct a mask yesterday during the Lowell National Park Service's Kid's Week at Brush Gallery. At right are Barbara Beaton of Dracut with her daughters, Madeline, 5, and Sarah, 9, whose back is to the camera. SUN PHOTOS/BOB WHITAKER

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