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The exhibition "Fusing Spirits Old and New: Mexican Masks" features masks donated to IMAS by Dr. David and Bernice Harner in 1986.
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Based on old forms of masks used in traditional festival dances, these masks combine lightweight copper metal plates with delicate texture and colorful paint.
The International Museum of Art & Science (IMAS) is presenting the “Fusing Spirits Old and New: Mexican Masks” exhibition from the IMAS Permanent Collection. The exhibit began at the Cardenas Gallery in January and runs through April.
According to the museum, the exhibition will feature the original grouping of masks donated to IMAS by Dr. David and Bernice Harner in 1986. These hammered copper masks were created in Altamirano and La Parota in the southwestern Mexican state of Guerrero. Long a center of mask making, this region began to produce traditional masks for the tourist trade around the 1970s. Based on old forms of masks used in traditional festival dances, these masks combine lightweight copper metal plates with delicate texture and colorful paint. The resulting masks are both elegant and whimsical.
Cynthia Yu, Marketing and Communications Manager at the IMAS Museum, expects about 300 visitors per week to attend the expo: “We don't know who the artists are but these types of masks are often made by family artisans who do not sign their pieces,” she says.
According to the museum’s website, “The Bearded Man,” or “El Barbón,” may come from the Dance of the Marquis, one of many dances originating in Colonial Spanish efforts to convert native Mexicans to Catholicism. The deer on the man’s forehead possibly refers to the animal sacred to the Yaqui and Mayo tribes.
“The ‘Tortuga’ or tortoise mask is carefully hammered to create the pattern of a shell with a beautifully colored human or spirit face in the center,” they state. “A rich Mexican tradition since at least 1200 BCE, these Mexican masks reflect a fusion of cultural and religious practices, resulting in an extremely rich, complex and evocative art form.”
The General admission for the “Fusing Spirits Old and New: Mexican Masks” exhibition for IMAS Members is for free. Tickets for the pubic are $7 for adult, $5 for seniors or student with ID, $4 for children age 4-12, and free for children age 3 and under. For more information about the event, please call 956.682.0123 or visit www.theimasonline.org.
By Rolf Otto Niederstrasser