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Albany Institute of History & Art Features Exhibits by UAlbany’s Galembo

By Greta Petry (October 8, 2004)

Visions of Haiti: Vodou and Carnaval & Jacmel. Les INdiens (The Indians), Cibachrome print, 1997, Courtesy of Diego Corte Arte Ltd., New York

Visions of Haiti: Vodou and Carnaval & Jacmel. Les INdiens (The Indians), Cibachrome print, 1997, Courtesy of Diego Corte Arte Ltd., New York

UAlbany Professor of Art Phyllis Galembo’s photographs are featured in three exhibitions at the Albany Institute of History & Art that explore magic, mystery, and the power of transformation through costume and masquerade. The institute is at 125 Washington Ave.
Galembo’s passion for costumes and masquerade began in her childhood when she would dress up in homemade costumes for Purim and Halloween. “I am fascinated by the way clothing can transform the self from an everyday person into something magical,” said the photographer. “The use of clothing and costume can be theatrical, sacred, or
simply celebratory.”
Galembo received a Master of Fine Arts in photography and printmaking from the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 1977, and joined the University at Albany Department of Art as a professor in 1978. Galembo broadened her interest in photography of costumes when she traveled to Africa in 1985 to photograph traditional Nigerian priests, priestesses, and ceremonial objects. Galembo’s ongoing interests led her to Haiti in 1993 when she photographed vodou culture and religion.

On exhibition through December 5, DRESSED FOR THRILLS: Photographs by Phyllis Galembo with Halloween and Masquerade Costumes includes selections from Galembo’s collection of vintage Halloween and masquerade costumes, accompanied by her photographs of people wearing the costumes.

Also through December 5, KINGS, CHIEFS, AND WOMEN OF POWER: Images from Nigeria depicts the lives of Nigerian spiritual leaders and illuminates some of West Africa’s elaborate cultural and religious traditions. Amid clashing ideologies and pressures for economic and social change, kings, chiefs, and women of power continue to exert a profound influence over the people. Loyalty to sacred kings and village chiefs ensures security in unsettled times and their rituals and trappings embody a view of how the world is constructed.

VISIONS OF HAITI: Vodou and Carnaval à Jacmel, on view through November 7, explores the human and divine faces of Haitian Vodou and the spiritual power behind Carnaval masquerade. Vodou is a melding of European Catholicism and African spirituality. Carnaval in Jacmel, Haiti, is expressed vividly with its papier-mâché masks, masquerade costumes, and body painting. Galembo’s photographs capture the spiritual ceremony, sociopolitical commentary, ridicule, and satire through the role reversal of animals and humans, male and female, and sacred and profane.

The institute is hosting a variety of public programs and special events for adult and family audiences as follows:

October 10: Museum Explorers Family Art and Gallery Adventure: The Art and Culture of Vodou; October 17: Slide Lecture: Magic, Mystery, and Masquerade with Galembo and a performance by Haitian dancer Nadia Dieudonné; October 24: Museum Explorers Day: A Halloween Extravaganza; November 4: Gallery Talk: Magic, Mystery, and Masquerade with Galembo and a dance performance by STOP (Student Theater Outreach Program) led by Broadway director Alan Weeks; and November 14: Museum Explorers Family Art and Gallery Adventure: Powerful Images/Powerful People.