I am truly fond of Phyllis Galembo's work. Galembo is a photographer and professor of Art at the University at Albany, State University of New York. She has exhibited extensively in museums, most recently Call and Response in collaboration with Nick Cave at the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art in conjunction with Spoleto Festival USA. Her work can also be seen in five published books, Aso-ebi: Cloth of the Family, Divine Inspiration from Benin to Bahia, Vodou: Visions and Voices of Haiti, Dressed for Thrills: 100 years of Halloween Costumes and Masquerade; and Maske.
For over two decades, Phyllis Galembo has documented cultural and religious traditions in Africa and the African Diaspora. Traveling widely throughout western and central Africa, and regularly to Haiti, her subjects are participants in masquerade events -- traditional African ceremonies and contemporary fancy dress and carnival -- who use costume, body paint and masks to create mythic characters. Sometimes entertaining and humorous, often dark and frightening, her portraits document and describe the transformation power of the mask.
The exhibition Phyllis Galembo: Maske features recent photographs by the artist, including sixteen large-scale color prints of African and Haitian figures in indigenous masquerade costume. The exhibit also coincides with the release of Galembo's new book, Maske (Boot, 2010).