Dancing with Life: Mexican Masks

September 3, 2022-April 16, 2023

Across Mexico, mask-making is a vibrant and playful artform with roots in the celebration of religious holidays. Worn by dancers in rollicking performances known as danzas, the masks depict devils and holy men; celebrities from media and politics, and other known individuals who personify sinners and false idols.

With a regional focus in Michoacan, Mexico, this exhibition presents a selection of 54 dance masks from the MAC collection and contemporary Mexican artists, as well as dance regalia and video presentations featuring the artists, dancers, and performances of the danzas. 

In contextualizing masks and the expressive art forms through the life and work of contemporary Mexican mask artists, the exhibition dispels the common notion that masks and danzas are “archaic” Indigenous customs that are disappearing in the face of encroaching modernity. Instead, they are presented as expressions of contemporary living culture in which symbols and scripts from pop culture and religious narratives are combined to communicate about spiritual matters, political issues, and community life.

Dancing with Life was guest curated by Pavel Shlossberg, Ph.D., Gonzaga University. 

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