When the Boca Raton Museum of Art opened its exhibition a "Phyllis Galembo: Maske" on Jan. 28, museumgoers were spellbound with the show about African Mask-Making Traditions.
A few months after the opening, the museum temporarily closed due to the pandemic. As a new wave of mask-making creativity takes hold, the museum has created online mask-related activities for families still at home and you can take a virtual video gallery tour of Galembo's exhibit.
The Museum has also extended the show for an additional four months, until September 20, to allow people time to experience these works in person after safe guidelines for re-opening.
"For many people all over the world now, creating and wearing masks feels like a way they can reclaim some personal power," said Galembo. "Protective face masks aren't just medical anymore, we can see on social media how they are becoming a part of fashion, of our cultural landscape. Ways that people can convey messages and reflect their own personality."
"Viewers can see in this exhibition how the tradition of masquerading has always been universal and timeless," said Irvin Lippman, the Executive Director of the Museum. "The powerful photographs by Galembo selected for this exhibition reveal the meticulous detail and creative imagination of mask-making."
The large scale photographs by Galembo capture the transformative power of the African masquerade. Her striking photographic series of contemporary mask rituals has drawn national and international critical acclaim. The images are nearly life-size and explore spiritual realms of these masquerade cultures with brilliant, mesmerizing colors.
Through her lens, the viewer gains special access to these rarely seen other-worlds as she captures the raw and sometimes frightening aspects of masks and ceremonial garb. She has made over twenty trips to sites of ritual masquerades, capturing cultural performances with a subterranean edge. The masking seen through her photographs is a complex, mysterious, and profound tradition in which the participants transcend the physical world and enter the spiritual realm.
"What could her exhibition images have in common with the face masks people are making for the pandemic? Perhaps their vitality, power, and boldness of humanity," Lippman said.
"For many people all over the world now, creating and wearing masks feels like a way they can reclaim some personal power," said Phyllis Galembo.