Category Archives: Halloween

Devils, vampires, ghosts

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Holidays are always important to kids in art therapy, perhaps none more so than Halloween. It’s a chance to take part in the fun and ritual of costumes, masks, and candy. But it’s also a chance for them to express the negative feelings and experiences that impact them. Some of the Halloween images I’ve seen over the years have eloquently depicted the internal and external violence in a child’s life, the good vs. the bad self, the ghosts of lost parents, and more.

In this way, Halloween manages to be a ton of fun while simultaneously honoring the emotional process. Here are some Halloween images created by kids in art therapy.

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Halloween inspiration

A few years back, I was lucky enough to stumble onto a fantastic gallery show of photographs by Phyllis Galembo. Galembo documents traditional African and Haitian masquerade ceremonies. Her subjects use costume, body paint, and masks to create mythic characters. Galembo’s 2010 book, Maske, is a gorgeous collection of these photographs.

Cover: Akata Masquerade, Nigeria 2004

The photos in the book were taken in Zambia, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Benin, Sierra Leone, Ghana, and Haiti. Galembo includes explanations of the ceremonies and rituals documented, as well as descriptions of her experiences taking the photos. Looking at this book makes me wish that Halloween wasn’t the only masquerade day in our culture. It was difficult to pick out my favorites! Check out this beautiful book for many more.

Chileya (Wise Male Ancestor), Likishi Masquerade, Zambia 2007

Panther, Dodo Masquerade, Burkina Faso 2009

Bwa Plank Masks, Burkina Faso 2006

Children’s Dodo Masquerade, Burkina Faso 2009

Otoghe-Toghe Masquerade, Nigeria 2005

Ngar Ball Traditional Masquerade Dance, Nigeria 2004

Mango leaves, Minor Ekpe Masquerade, Nigeria 2005

Ko S’ogbon L’Ate (You Can’t Buy Wisdom at the Market), Gelede Masquerade, Benin 2006

Ologodu Masquerade, Sierra Leone 2008

Ringo (Big Deer) Masquerade, Sierra Leone 2008

Three in Fancy Dress with Wire Masks, Anchors Masquerade Group, Ghana 2010

Four Children in Fancy Dress, Nobles Masquerade Group, Ghana 2009

Three Painted Boys, Haiti 2004

Lasiren with Marie Rose (Man with Snakes), Haiti 2004