Spring Forward: A mask pageant and celebration

Jan. 11 - May 1, 2021

Under the creative direction of Frank Maugeri, Lecturer in Theater & Performance Studies and celebrated designer of artistic pageants, processions, and celebrations, Spring Forward aims to be a hopeful collaboration between creative teams of students, art faculty, and prominent artists for the design and construction of large-scale masks, culminating in a conditions-appropriate procession and pageant, with music, circus, poetry, dance, song and more, on May Day, the date of ancient festivals of spring.

Do you want to create community and make friends during a very isolating time? Do you want the opportunity to work with internationally renowned artists? Are you looking for opportunities to build your portfolio? Do you have ideas or projects that you want placed in an online archive of hope? Are you someone with no previous design experience who is simply just bored in quarantine?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, form or join a creative team and submit a design for the Spring Forward pageant and procession!

We are seeking collaborators for a student-led, interdisciplinary, university-wide pageant and celebration of spring - no previous design experience required. Interested students will have the opportunity to work with industry professionals from all over the globe and collaboratively design and construct unique large-scale transforming masks, site-based dance and performance, intricate costumes, unique sculptural spectacle and parade objects, and more! These student-driven projects will come together – conditions permitting – in an outdoor procession and pageant on the first of May, as well as an online archive that will showcase and commemorate all student designs and creations.

Students across the College are invited to contribute to the design and creation of large-scale transforming masks by forming a Creative Team and submitting a proposal for a shadow box.

Students from Theater & Performance Studies, Visual Arts, Music, Creative Writing, Cinema & Media Studies, Media Art & Design will collaborate on designing and creating costumes, narrative dance performances, ritual soundscapes, and pageant devices. Should you not belong to one of these programs but want to get involved please contact Spring Forward’s Student Event Coordinator Rebecca Husk ( An invitation for pageant performers will go out to all students in the coming weeks.

Complementary programming includes a virtual visit to the Field Museum’s vast mask collection, as well as digital workshops on the history and politics of pageantry, the design and creation of devices and machines of art, and on paper-cutting and shadow box design.

Spring Forward Event Schedule

Gather a Creative Team of three to five UChicago friends for the challenge! For more information on and registration of Creative Teams click here.

Note: Virtual teams can include any combination of students, and teams collaborating in person should adhere to the Winterfest Friend Circle guidelines.

Mondays, 5pm-7pm starting January 25 through event date.

Renowned designer and collaborator Frank Maugeri will be available to discuss concerns, ideas and suggestions regarding the pageant weekly.

Frank Maugeri, Tiffany Trent, Rebecca Husk, and Ellie Terrel will discuss the project plans and opportunities. (Session will be recorded.)

With this virtual visit to the Field Museum interested students will get a taste of its incredibly rich and diverse collections of masks from all over the world, including 2020 “pandemic masks.” The virtual tour will be led by curators and experts from the Field Museum.

Dr. John Bell will speak on the history and politics of pageantry. He is a puppeteer and theater historian who began working in puppetry with Bread and Puppet Theater in the 1970s and continued as a company member for over a decade. He studied theater history at Columbia University, and has since taught at New York University, Rhode Island School of Design, Emerson College and other institutions. He is a founding member of the Brooklyn-based theater company Great Small Works and the author of many books and articles about puppetry, including “Puppets, Masks, and Performing Objects,” “Strings, Hands, Shadows: A Modern Puppet History,” and “American Puppet Modernism.”

Jimmy Grimes will provide a master class on mechanical objects and creating aesthetic devices. He creates world class puppetry for TV, film, stage and events. He has worked with animation and production companies including Aardman, Blink, Hartswood Productions, Riff Raff and Rowdy. Amongst many other theatres he has worked for the National Theatre, Young Vic, Orange Tree, created parades for safari parks and shopping centres and was Puppet Director of WARHORSE in the West End.

Brandin Hurley will lead a digital workshop on creating replete paper cut worlds. She is a Chicago based installation artist with a background in Scenic Design, who has been practicing her art since receiving an MFA from Northern Illinois University in 2013. Although her medium varies, her favorite element is light, and she enjoys experimenting with its flexibility and ethereal wonder in all contexts. Her work, often inspired by the seemingly eternal and awe-inspiring patterns in both nature and mythology, has culminated in installations of delicate glowing crystals, fields of luminous constellations, an immersive room of golden honeycomb, and looming paper cut faces of mythological demons. Her recent work features intricate and ethereal worlds that draw attention to the vast power and simultaneous delicacy of the natural world.

A loose illustration of your group’s idea and a paragraph describing the artistic ambition, along with a summary of the support required to achieve your vision. 

A committee of College students and UChicago representatives will select the winning designs.

Materials for constructing Shadow Boxes will be available for pick up on campus.

Frank Maugeri, Tiffany Trent, Rebecca Husk, and Ellie Terrel will discuss the project plans and opportunities. (Session will be recorded.)

Students participating in the May 1 Pageant will meet virtually for a suite of rehearsals to prepare for the culminating Spring Forward pageant event.

Frank Maugeri, Tiffany Trent, Rebecca Husk, and Ellie Terrel will discuss the project plans and opportunities. (Session will be recorded.)

All students participating in the culminating pageant will perform in a series of sound and movement-based activities, including a choreographed Dance of Hope and a presentation of Shadow Box masks in a format guided by conditions as of mid-spring.