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Mask-making fiesta covers 12 characters, lives

By Randi Eichenbaum
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, October 20, 2005
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Faces of the Fiesta, a celebration of the tradition of mask making and mask wearing, might inspire more creative mask making for Halloween. However, the Arizona State Museum's second annual event is also geared toward providing a cultural and artistic context surrounding the meaning of masks.

Mask maker and performance artist Zarco Guerrero will perform his one-man comedic drama titled "Face to Face in a Frenzy."

Guerrero said he will depict 12 different characters, both male and female, from different walks of life touching on various social issues including nonviolence, self-esteem, teen pregnancy and substance abuse.

Guerrero calls the masks he uses throughout the performance invisible masks, meaning they are form fitting and blend into his skin.

"I'm no longer the issue, the audience has to focus in on the mask character," Guerrero said.

Guerrero has been on tour throughout the nation with this performance for the past seven years. Being a Phoenix native, however, the content of his work is derived from his roots.

"I deal with a lot of issues of the area: border issues, multiculturalism, that kind of thing," Guerrero said.

On top of his performance, Guerrero has also collaborated with other cultural artists. In fact, he created masks to go alongside songwriter, storyteller and poet, Michael Heralda's latest CD Miccailhuitl-The Journey to Mictlan-Fear Not Death.

Heralda will also be performing at Faces of the Fiesta sharing his knowledge of the Aztec people.

Heralda fell into his passion of the Aztecs about 12 years ago, when he accidentally opened up a book on the subject matter.

"It touched me in a way that I felt is unique, and when I left I felt that I knew the information in an intuitive way," Heralda said.

From there, Heralda embarked on his journey, creating his first album, Aztec Stories.

Soon after, Heralda came to believe that a lot of the information that he had retained about Aztec people was skewed toward a Spanish perspective, which led him to study in Mexico. It was at that point that Heralda then created his second album, Tonalmachyotl-The Memory Stone.

On all three albums, Heralda uses his various forms of art to tell the stories of the Aztec people. Heralda finds all forms of art a unique and important part of his work but he feels some are more expressive than others.

"The real goal of my projects is to share the indigenous knowledge, and I can do that through the medium of music," Heralda said.

The artist has a lot of things to show and a lot of information to share with his audience, but do not expect to sit lazily on the sidelines. Heralda finds that the interactive portion of his performance is important in the learning experience. Heralda, who usually tours solo because of costs, will bring along 50 instruments with him on the road.

"People ask, 'Are you going to play all 50 instruments?'" Heralda said. "We all get to play music together, that's the fun part, they get to be the band."

Both Heralda and Guerrero alike, and with the help of some masks, look forward to reaching their audiences through their performances.

"For me it's to plant some seeds in their mind and in their hearts as a way to introduce them to the indigenous philosophy," Heralda said. "So yeah, I'm planting seeds."

Alongside Heralda and Guerrero, the Youth Theater Project at Borderlands Theater will be there to perform a masked play as well as Ballet Folklorico San Juan, Trio Los Amigos and Pueblo High School's mariachi band. More than 40 artists will also be present to display an array of arts and crafts for sale.

Faces of the Fiesta will be held Saturday and Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days, at the Arizona State Museum, 1013 E. University Blvd. Ticket prices for members are $3, $5 for general admission, $1 for ages 13 to 16, and children under 12 and CatCard holders get in free.

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