Vejigante Mask Art Class at LEAP

February 14, 2019

Camden’s communities, she has contributed numerous works of art and offered her talents to the adult community in order to create a bond between parents and students. For Black History Month, Ms.Speart’s students have created an exhibition entitled “The African Influence & the Vejigantes of Loiza.” Many of the students that our institution serves are Latinos and African-Americans. This VAPA arts project maintains living traditions for our youth and contributes to community pride and honors their origin. Masks are an integral part of Puerto Rican religious festivals, especially those celebrated in the coastal towns of the island. In general, they are used in celebrations such as the Santiago Apóstol Festival, the Hatillo Mask Festival, the Ponce Carnival, and the San Sebastian Street Festival. In these festivals, people dress as religious or historical characters. The masks are the highlight of the costumes. In the Santiago Apóstol festival in Loíza, the masks used are the vejigante, caballeros, viejos and locas styles. Vejigantes are evil spirits that represent the Moors who fought against the Christians during the reign of Santiago Apóstol . The vejigante masks of Loíza are made of coconut husks. The facial expressions are grotesque and exaggerated and, in general, have three to five horns on the front and sides of the mask. Traditionally, they were painted red, green and yellow, but today a wide variety of brilliant colors is used.