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African Masks, African Dance at the DMA

by Anne Bothwell 20 Aug 2010 12:12 PM

Mask exhibit opens Sunday at the Dallas Museum of Art, but you can see the masks in action tonight at Late Night at the DMA.


Goat mask with feather cape, from Cameroon.

Masks touch all levels of cultural life in Africa. They have been used to celebrate the passing of great men, to send the spirits of the dead into the next world, to celebrate feminine beauty or power, to implore the spirits, to keep order and maintain discipline.  Sunday,  you can get a sense of the variety and artistry behind these masks when  The Dallas Museum of Art opens “African Masks: The Art of Disguise.”

Roslyn Adele Walker, a senior curator at the museum and author of the DMA’s book The Arts of Africa, led a tour of the exhibition yesterday.

The pieces are made from wood, metal, cloth, beads, beeswax, fibers, even shotgun shells. Mask-making is still a vibrant art. The exhibition includes a butterfly mask by Yacouba Bonde of Burkina Faso, a contemporary choreographer and sculptor.  And it’s accompanied by a video of Bonde dancing. These contextual videos of the masks in use during ceremonies are scattered throughout the exhibition. But masks are also in use here in Dallas. Tonight, at Late Night at the DMA, The Bafoot Group from Camaroon will take the Late Night Main Stage for a performance and procession through the museum concourse.

Some more masks from the exhibit, and below that,  video from Roslyn talking to Jerome about the museum’s African Art Collection on Think, taped earlier this year.

Look for the shotgun shells at the top of this mask.

This masquerade is used to pay tribute to the Great Mother in Guinea

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