2023 Sartori Residency
by Anna Paradise
From May 20, 2023, to May 29, 2023, the Women and Masks Project hosted a workshop at Boston University led by world-renowned Italian mask makers Paola Piizi and Sarah Sartori. The workshop assembled diverse participants, ranging from visual arts undergraduate and graduate students, professors, and mask enthusiasts, and facilitated an interdisciplinary and collaborative environment where participants and instructors could manifest their creative potential.
The Sartori family introduced themselves and their family legacy in mask making, starting with a conference held over Zoom. Paola and Sarah, as well as Women and Masks’s coordinator Dr. Felice Amato, constructed a baseline knowledge of mask-making techniques for the participants, such as the concept of physiognomy–a concept that involves artists enhancing certain physical attributes of their mask to convey a specific persona for the character–as well as a general assignment to create a short vignette for a character imbued with animalistic traits to help guide their physiognomic understanding. After presenting their ideas to the workshop group and receiving feedback from Paola and Sarah, participants sketched ideas to come prepared for the in-person section of the workshop.
On May 26, 2023, participants were asked to gather at 855 Commonwealth to meet the group and begin the foundational steps to begin crafting their masks. After a presentation hosted by Paola and Sarah on their family history, including Amleto Sartori’s wooden mold technique and passion for Commedia dell’Arte, the collaborations the family has made with other influential mask makers such as Jacques Lecoq, Giorgio Strehler, and Paolo Grassi, and Paola’s development of the “true” neutral mask, participants engaged in woodwork to construct the easels needed to execute the Sartori technique.
With easels in place, participants learned how to sculpt their clay molds, gaining hands-on experience with a variety of tools, such as calipers, wooden mallets, hammers, ribs, carvers, and wire cutters. With revisions made by experts Paola and Sarah, participants finished their clay renditions within two days and moved on to the next stage to create a cast and begin the paper mache. With the last day, participants mixed and cured plaster and watched a demonstration of how to execute the Sartori method for paper mache so that they had all the tools necessary to repeat the process and craft independently.
2021-22 Conference Archive
Click here to view the conference archive.