April 23, 24, & 30

Paola Piizzi Sartori & Sarah Sartori
Scroll down the page to access information regarding the April weekend events.


Saturday, April 23

All times are in EST (Eastern Standard Time)
9:00-11:00 am Welcome and Breakfast Keynote Paola Piizzi Sartori and Sarah Sartori Join mother and daughter, Paola Piizzi Sartori and Sarah Sartori, for a presentation about the Sartori family’s history as mask artists. At the end of this talk, the Sartoris will give instructions to participants (who have applied and been accepted in the Master Class). They will have an hour to develop an idea and designs that they will share in the 12-2:00 PM session. Anyone can watch these sessions–and we encourage you to! You can even engage in the activities on your own. The Sartoris will only be able to see, review, and comment on the work of those who are participating in the Master Class but all can gain insights from their comments. Link to Register for Event#1


11:00-12:00 am Independent Work Time

12:00-2:00 pm


Master Class:

Mask Methodology with the Sartoris

(Part 1)


Paola Piizzi Sartori and Sarah Sartori


In this session, the participants in the Master Class will join the Sartoris (panelist style) for feedback on their preliminary sketches and concepts. All attendees of this webinar can watch the feedback the participants receive. The participants will return on April 30th with models in clay, receive feedback, and refine their ideas with guidance from the Sartoris. That session will also be live-streamed. However, none of the Sartori workshops or talks will be recorded.

2:00-2:30 pm


Break and New Link




2:30-4:00 pm Artist Talk:

World Building with Animacy Theatre Collective

Alexandra Simpson and Morgan Johnson

Animacy Theatre Collective (ATC) is the work of Morgan Johnson and Alexandra Simpson and is focused on the creation of original, experimental and interdisciplinary theatre works. We tell intersectional feminist stories that use humor and physicality to explore social justice themes and create characters who slither across pre-existing borders (human, nonhuman, gender, sexuality). Our work uses physical theatre (mask, clown, dance, and improvisation), playwriting, and multimedia to create research-based and devised plays. ATC was formed through a shared belief in the necessity of bringing research into conversation with communities through stories that are hilarious, physical, and imaginative. In this artist talk, Morgan and Alex will present and discuss several of their original works with a focus on the role of masks and masking in world building and performing it outdoor and site-specific locations. The presentation will include a Q&A and short physical exploration.

Link to Register for Event#2
4:00-4:30 pm Break and New Link


4;30–5:00 pm


Finding Form in Mask Making Clelia Scala Scala discusses the connection between trauma healing, eating disorders, cultural standards of beauty and masks. Her talk is based on her personal experience as a woman and a mask maker, but she will also speak more generally about the link between healing and mask making and how giving form to what feels formless can be transformative. Link to Register for Event#3
5:00-5:30 pm


Becoming the Buffalo: Exploration of the Self and the Alter Ego Erika Herrera


Herrera’s presentation outlines her personal journey as an artist living as the “other,” and how her work became a search for confidence and an identity of her own.
5:30-5:40 Advice to Myself #2: Resistance Video
Shot on the coldest and snowiest day of the year, “Advice to Myself 2: Resistance” presents a visual and verbal collaboration between author Louise Erdrich, her poet sister Heid E. Erdrich, and artist Elizabeth Day. 
6-7 pm


Break and New Link


7-9:30 pm


Tribute to Joan Schirle 


Deborah Bell

Judy Slattum

Jane Hill and David Ferney of Dell’Arte International (DAI)

Anette Thornton, Judith Chafee, Rachel Bowditch, and Carlos Cruz,  of ATME (the Association of Theatre Movement Educators)

Join us in  honoring the life and work of the late Joan Schirle.

Judy Slattum: Tribute to Joan Schirle and Balinese Mask:

Slattum’s talk will be a bridge between the talk about Joan’s early years and the creation of Dell’Arte, with an introduction to Balinese mask theatre, and its relationship to Commedia. In Joan’s presentation at the September conference, many of the techniques she described originated in Balinese mask dance.Hear about them and view a film of short tributes by Newman, a Dell’Arte International member and several Balinese artist/instructors who worked with Joan, concluding with a collage of photos of Joan and her students in Bali.

Attendees can share memories and tributes subject to time.

Link to Register for Event#4


Melissa Meier

Sunday, April 24

9-9:30 am Quintland, the Human Zoo: The Objectification of Exposed Human Bodies and the Theatrical Practice of Personalizing Objects Sofie Neu In 2019, Seth Tietze, Lina Mareike Wolfram, and Sofie Neu collectively developed a figure and object theatre piece in the Contemporary Puppetry Department at the Hochschule für Schauspielkunst “Ernst Busch” Berlin, Germany. Two puppeteers tell the story(s) of five supposedly identical girls, using a photo album, miniature worlds made of cardboard and Plexiglas, various cardboard figures, a cardboard mask, and baby dolls. The ever-present publicity, the girls are subjected to, is made palpable not only by the presence of the audience itself, but by a live camera. This presentation  summarizes the theoretical thesis in dramaturgy, related to the piece. It gives an overview of historical exhibition practices of human bodies, especially in North America and Germany in the 20th century, such as genre shows, world fairs, freak, and side shows in amusement parks as well as theme parks like “Quintland”.  Read more on Neu’s page. Link to Register for Event#5
9:30-10 am


Rethinking women in theater: Isabella Andreini and Balzac’s la Zambinella in “Sarrasine” Eleonora Mancuso This presentation will focus on two unique women in theater: commedia dell’arte actress Isabella Andreini and the character of la Zambinella in the nineteenth-century French novel “Sarrasine” by Honoré de Balzac. Andreini was a part of an internationally renowned commedia dell’arte theatrical company called “I gelosi” and was widely known as the first Italian woman on stage. She was an inspiring Renaissance writer of prose and poetry as well.
“Sarrasine” is the eponymous story of a man who falls in love with a castrato opera singer called la Zambinella in eighteen-century Rome.
This presentation will compare these figures to trace the story of women in theater and to also rethink their roles by deconstructing the stereotypes that are attributed to them.


10-11:15 am


Politics of Masks: Feminist Perspectives


Un-mask Racialized Gender Codes

Glitch Feminist Masking and Un-Masking

Unmasking Misfits


Presenter and Panel Moderator: Dr. Karen Keifer-Boyd
The panel’s introduction presentation “Politics of Masks: Feminist Perspectives” by Karen Keifer-Boyd situates masking and unmasking in feminist theories, praxis, and activism. 

Pervasive normalizing practices are difficult to resist or even recognize. Gender identity is integral to issues of power and privilege and to feminist art pedagogies that reject essentializing gender differences. Patriarchy, rooted in essentialist views of gender differences, requires coercion and violence to maintain dominance of men and subordination of women. A primary goal of feminist masking and unmasking is to disrupt patriarchy as a normalizing practice and as patriarchy intersects with other forms of oppression (e.g., racism, classism, ableism). This panel explores the question: How has and can critical feminist race disability studies inform arts-based research and curriculum to unmask oppressive socio-political systems? For example, avatars as masquerade offer a material transitional space/object that becomes pedagogical when the creative play explores affect, masking politics, event potentials, self-referential landmarks, and relationality of the interplay between subjective experience and cultural historical forces.

The panel features presentations by:

Un-mask Racialized Gender Codes” by Ye Sul Park

In order for her face to be detected by facial recognition algorithms as a Black person, Joy Buolamwini, a poet of code and the founder of Algorithmic Justice League, had to wear a white mask in front of a camera. This is because major facial recognition algorithms performed best on lighter male faces and worst on darker female faces. Algorithms are trained on data sets developed by human developers who are inherently biased, which can result in discriminations against certain races, genders, or classes. In this presentation, Park will introduce how Joy Buolamwini has challenged algorithmic bias and injustice to unmask her white mask through her research and art activism. This approach will help art educators and researchers gain a critical awareness of social and ethical issues raised by the increasing use of emerging technologies in contemporary society.

Glitch Feminist Masking and Un-Masking” by Maggie-Rose Condit-Summerson

Condit-Summerson will discuss her current arts research exploring masking and unmasking as critical strategies of feminist glitch art practices, informed by Legacy Russel’s “Glitch Feminism: A Manifesto.”

Unmasking Misfits” by Glynnis Reed

Reed explores the ideas of being a misfit, neurodivergent, uncontained woman. Through arts based research in the form of a “poetic artist’s book,” she seeks to depict layers of identity and the experience of interior shifts in mood and feelings. The artist’s book represents a self that is multiple, with entangled identities that evolve complexly. The visual imagery allows Reed to express emotionality and moods while the poetic narrative conveys the dominant culture’s urge to control misfit bodies and minds. She aims, by the final image in the book, to portray a sense of self satisfaction and wholeness in the neurodivergent subject, who accepts herself and is able to stand sovereign from the patriarchal, ableist gaze. Reed created this artist’s book to support a politics of resistance to hegemony and marginalization based on race, gender, and dis/ability.

11:15-11:30 am Pause _
11:30 am-12 pm EcoSelf Portrait Masks Kimberly Callas COVID 19 and the Climate Crisis is a radical call to see ourselves differently. Masks not only disguise or protect, masks also offer us a portal to a new self, an opportunity for transformation. This call for a new self and new way of being in the world is the call for new images and new visions. The masks allows for us to envision and take on these new forms. In the Social Practice project, Discovering the Ecological Self, artist Kimberly Callas, works with participants to identify personal and culturally significant nature-based symbols, patterns and images so that they can then create EcoSelf Portrait Masks.


12-12:30 pm


Masked Melissa Meier in conversation with Kate Stern of Art Crush. In this presentation, curator Kate Stern will be speaking with Melissa Meier about the use of masks in her work and how they appear in several bodies of the work and the meaning behind and them. They will specifically discuss Meier’s Construction, Laced Skins, and Glass Eyed Mask Series. Stern will also speak about Meier’s evolution as an artist and their collaboration on her upcoming solo museum show.


12:30-1 pm Break and New Link



1:00-2:30 pm

Artist Talk and Master Class:

The Honest Hooker: The Comedy and Poetry of Survival

Katrien van Beurden In this interactive theatre lecture, Van Beurden shares her fascination and love for Commedia, this raw tragi-comic folk theatre. She tells stories, plays with the masks and shares how through her travels, and through her experience with players worldwide in times of war, dictatorship and pandemics, she discovered comfort, hope, hilarity and inspiration in the most extreme times. And how, in her own darkest days, when she had to fight death herself, her passion for Commedia re awoke. 

Van Beurden says, “This lecture is a confession of my deepest obsession of what I would love to believe Commedia was and is. Of my love for madness. Playing gives hope. Troupe Courage believes that the spirit of the Courage commedia can actually be imaginative breath, in times when a playful mind is needed to stay hopeful.”

link to register for event#6
2:30-3 pm Break and New Link


3-3:30 pm Artist Talk:

“We play our way, I’m proud to be me”: Masked Performance Among Contemporary Female Rappers

Amber West Rap artists have utilized masks since at least the early 1990s when Greg Jacobs, who performed as rapper Shock-G in hip-hop group Digital Underground, invented a second, masked version of himself called MC Humpty Hump, a clown-like sexual persona that launched the group to widespread commercial success in an era when rap was only beginning to “cross over.” In 2005, hip-hop studies scholar Mickey Hess published seminal work focused on the use of persona as a form of resistance in hip-hop, with a focus on two male masked rappers, Humpty Hump and MF Doom. Arguably ushered in by Doom, a highly-respected underground rapper, there has been an increase in the use of masks by both underground and commercial rappers as the twenty-first century has gone on. Until quite recently, however, masked rappers were exclusively male. Since around 2015, some female rappers have begun wearing masks, including Brooklyn’s Leikeli47 and Italy’s Myss Keta who perform and appear in public only while masked. My aim is to build from Hess’ work by focusing on the unique material conditions for women rappers in today’s music industry, and how their use of masks functions within this context. link to register for event#7
3:30-4:30 pm The Mask is an Actor: A Guide to Using Performance Masks Alyssa Ravenwood Audiences react to a masked performance with unique exuberance. Masks touch a particular place in us. Masks awaken a child-like enthusiasm and wonder. Directors often ask me if wearing a mask will limit the emotional expression of their actors. The opposite is true. Masks heighten emotional range. When worn by a trained actor wearing a character mask made by a skilled performance mask maker. Performing in a mask requires specific skills. The importance of training for the actor cannot be disregarded. You would not expect a tap dancer to perform a ballet without training. You should not expect an actor to perform in a mask without mask training. A mask worn by an untrained actor will not come to life in the same way. We will discuss training exercises and techniques needed to use a character mask in the most effective way. I have seen audiences experience intense excitement and emotional involvement during masked performances unlike any other productions.
4:30-4:45 pm Break (Same Link)
4:45-5:15 pm These Boobs Made for Walking  

Sohyoung Park


“These Boobs Made for Walking” is a video of five women talking about their desires. Their faces are cut out of the frame. A new face and a new identity is created on the torso. Ms. Color Pack is an artistic persona with her own Instagram who is brave enough to talk about personal freedom for women worldwide. She is the leader of the imagined “The Walking Boobs” coalition, a feminist movement. She emphasizes the importance of an alliance of women who share the wisdom and create a powerful political force towards change.  They pursue personal affinity rather than biologically based identity. Their goal is to build an ecofeminism utopia that includes everyone regardless of gender, race, class, and species in the digital world. 

My personal experiences as an international woman inform my concerns about identity within and outside of the studio

5:15-5:45 pm  


New Rites of Passage: Performing the Transformative at Menopause


Athene Currie The primary vehicle in the expression of this research is rites of passage as a means of self-empowerment at menopause. Engagement with masque, masquerade and, performativity has informed this inquiry. Expressed in video and live performance the artists body engages in processes of ritual in an attempt to reconnect to sense of self and actively contemplate and embody change of identity.


5:45-6 pm Closing of the Conference Felice Amato Join conference founder, Felice Amato, as she closes the conference.


Athene Currie

Saturday, April 30

9 am-12 pm Master Class:

Mask Methodology with the Sartoris

(Part 2)

Paola Piizzi Sartori and Sarah Sartori Join Paola and Sarah to observe a feedback session with the participants of this Master Class. Each student will present their in-progress mask and Sarah and Paola will give feedback and extend their conversation through applying Sartori methodology to the examples that students produce. Link to Register for Event#8