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Puerto Rican carnival mask making
 
Angel Sánchez Ortiz holding one of his vejigante masks, Puerto Rican carnival  mask making, 2007; Holyoke, Massachusetts; Photography by Maggie Holtzberg
Angel Sánchez Ortiz holding one of his vejigante masks, Puerto Rican carnival mask making, 2007

Holyoke, Massachusetts
Photography by Maggie Holtzberg
 
Anthony Paul Martinez holding four horned mask; Apprenticeship - Puerto Rican carnival mask making; 2007: Holyoke, Massachusetts; Painted papier mâché
Angel Sánchez Ortiz with some of his masks; Apprenticeship - Puerto Rican carnival mask making; 2006: Springfield, Massachusetts; Painted papier mâché
Four horned mask made by apprentice Anthony Paul Martinez; Apprenticeship - Puerto Rican carnival mask making; 2008: Holyoke, Massacusetts; Painted papier mâché
Angel Sánchez Ortiz wearing devil mask; Apprenticeship - Puerto Rican carnival mask making; 2006: Springfield, Massachusetts; Painted papier mâché
verticle bar Artist
Angel Sánchez Ortiz
Wilmington, DE
verticle bar apprentice
Paul A. Martinez
Holyoke, MA
Angel Sánchez Ortiz is a master artist in the Puerto Rican tradition of vejigante mask-making - the colorful spiky papier mâché "mascara" worn during carnival. His striking, fantastical masks of boldly painted papier mâché depict animals, legendary people, and sometimes spirits and monsters that are imbued with cultural meaning. Forms and imagery come from the blend of African, Spanish, and native Táino cultures that is expressed in Puerto Rican carnival celebrations.

He builds the body of the mask on a form, often a balloon, a basketball, or a plaster form he shapes for this purpose. Decorative elements such as horns, protruding eyes, and articulated jaws, also made from paper, are added to the base form to create the mask's character. It might represent a traditional figure, for example the king of carnival, El Rey Momo, or a popular legend such as the Chupacabras, or it could spring directly from the artist's imagination. Careful painting in bright acrylic colors further defines the spirit of each mask. In addition to masks, Ortiz makes many other large and small figurines representing the vejigante and paints pictures reflecting this and other aspects of Puerto Rican culture.

In FY07, Ortiz and his step-son Paul Anthony Martinez were awarded an MCC Traditional Arts Apprenticeship. Five of the masks Anthony completed were of his own design. This includes the fou-horned black and red mask shown here. Angel says that its shape is very much like of the traditional Tortuga (turtle).
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