Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Rosemary Liss

Studio art major and Trustee Scholar Rosemary Liss put her creative skills to work last summer as an intern for Big NazO, an international performance group of visual artists, puppet performers and masked musicians. During her stint in the puppet lab, she designed a mask that was used in a big performance at the Bowery Ballroom in New York City. She even got to perform a few times in costume.

Behind the scenes: “I never saw myself as theatrical, but it is amazing what you can do when your identity is concealed. You definitely feel less self-conscious.”

The background: “I went to the Waldorf School of Baltimore from kindergarten through eighth grade. Waldorf schools stress a holistic and hands-on approach to teaching. When I was little we were taught through stories, some of which used beautiful marionettes. So I was introduced to certain artistic forms from a young age. I also learned to knit, sew and paint in elementary school. Because of my background I thought that puppet making would be right up my alley.”

Hidden talents: “After a couple weeks of doing repairs and working on a practice mask to learn the techniques, I was assigned to redesign a mask to make it more form fitting and economical. Because of the constant use of masks in performances, the fabric-lined foam that lines the interior of the mask begins to deteriorate. I had to come up with a design that was sturdy enough to handle the wear and tear, but also form fitting enough for a break-dancer to wear while dancing. Since I had not had a lot of experience working with the type of mask that I was redesigning, this was a challenge. But after a lot of trial-and-error, I not only designed a very good mask, but I also had a better understanding of how these costumes are constructed. I also realized how important it is to work slowly and carefully because it is less likely that I will make mistakes.”

“Wheaton is all about an interdisciplinary education. Big NazO is the perfect real-world example of where this is applicable. There is a beautiful connection between visual arts and theatre there. The opportunity to work in such a creative setting will definitely be beneficial in the future.”