Halloween has long been a beloved holiday by children and adults alike, and a chance for artistic expression to be showcased. The holiday allows people to break the social norms of fashion and behavior yielding to further creativity, and a chance for artistic expression in ways that are not as widely accepted in other months. “Goth” or “emo” styles that are sometimes thought of as strange or alternative are widely embraced. Interests in specific TV shows, movies, and books can be expressed through costumes as well. Throughout the spooky month, actors and other performance artists are given a chance to express their talents in new ways that are appreciated by a wider audience.
Halloween provides creative minds with the opportunity to express themselves in a way that is usually not seen as ‘socially acceptable’. It is a day where one dons a witch mask and a black cape instead of the typical jeans and a sweater. If someone shows up to school or to a Halloween party in a crazy costume, no one will care or think your choice is strange and unusual, as this level of creativity is the nature of the holiday. In fact, it can even be seen as unspirited if someone chooses not to dress up. Costumes express our individual interests. Even if you chose to wear a basic costume, the aspect of self-expression and individualism is still much greater this time of year than any other.
A popular activity during Halloween is to go to haunted mazes or scare-themed amusement parks. For example, the haunted maze in Ridgewood or Six Flags’ October Fright Festival are two popular attractions during the month of October. At these locations, actors or volunteers work as the monsters whose job it is to terrify those who walk through. In a way, this Halloween-themed job is a sort of performance art, similar to theatre. The workers are dressing up and acting like crazy and terrifying creatures for as long as their shift lasts. If they happen to break character, the magic and the illusion of Halloween are broken. Matthew Taddei, a Ridgewood High School student who works at the maze in Ridgewood says that “working at a haunted maze, we have to create a sort of atmosphere, not only in appearances but in the way we act. Much like an actor has to have a performance that evokes a certain emotion, we have to evoke fear in the people coming through the maze.”
Similar to a character in a Disney show, when performing or putting on an act for an audience, especially to an audience of predominantly children, keeping the mirage alive is what differentiates an “okay” night from an “amazing” night. This type of spooky performance art comes with artistic liberties and opportunities for expression, as the actors can hone in on their performance skills and get creative with the characterization of their creatures. The month of Halloween offers many opportunities to express oneself through the performing arts.
Halloween can also be a time to showcase the more personal things that people are fans of, such as particular TV shows, books, movies, and celebrities that they are passionate about. Whether it be dressing up as Lady Gaga in her iconic plastic bubble dress, a leather jacket-clad Danny Zuko, or Harry Potter, people are given the opportunity to portray their favorites during Halloween. This is a more intimate form of artistic expression, as one can directly choose the kind of creative influence they have on themselves and on others.
Along with a sense of personal fulfillment through expression, Halloween promotes “spooky” culture, with all things black, gothic, and bloody, where the scarier something is, the better. These non-normalized ideas become a phenomenon during the month of October. Halloween is a time to present the darker side of art. In the past few years, horror-themed makeup tutorials and costume designs have become increasingly popular. During Halloween time, if you scroll through any one person’s’ Instagram explore page, it is almost guaranteed that you will come across a fear-inducing video of someone transforming themselves into something hideous and/or dark. Full face skeletons possessed dolls, and the half-dead are extremely popular choices. If someone was wearing this demonic kind of makeup during the rest of the year, they would certainly get some concerned and terrified glances from passerby. However, during Halloween, this kind of dark and scary artistic expression is fully welcomed and accepted.
We spoke to Junior Grace Mabli, who says that Halloween “celebrates artistic abilities and lets people express themselves freely and publicly”. When asked about she personally expresses herself, she said “I just love putting on crazy things and being able to take on the persona of different characters for a night. Most other times people would look at you funny for wearing a tiara or a tutu in public, but Halloween is the one time of year that it’s socially acceptable to wear anything and people can’t hate on you for it.”
Though Halloween may be thought of as a holiday for parties and costumes, to many people it provides an outlet to express artistic freedom and showcase talents. Despite the simplicity of the holiday, beyond the surface is a beloved cultural phenomenon that gives a chance for alternative styles to be appreciated. Next October, let your freak flag fly, and use your artistic liberties and expressions during Halloween.
Abbie Anderson and Chloe McCandless
Graphics: Erin Kim