Phyllis Galembo has traveled to sites of ritual masquerade in Africa and the Caribbean over twenty times. In her images, Galembo attempts to respectfully reveal traditions and religions in which members transcend the physical world and are able to reach the spiritual. Her subjects are informally posed, but their costumes, which conceal their faces, evoke a feeling of mystery. The two brown doll heads add to this mystery, while the white doll’s contrasting color raises more questions. What is the significance of this doll’s skin color? Is it pertinent to the ritual? What is the significance of these dolls? This portrait does not show the face of its subjects, so that the image becomes a portrait of the ritual itself rather than the individuals participating in it.
Born in New York City, Phyllis Galembo graduated with a master’s in fine arts from University of Wisconsin at Madison in 1977. Galembo has appeared on CNN, NPR, and NBC Today to discuss her work, and has work in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the British Art Museum at Yale, among other institutions. She has had numerous solo exhibitions, most recently in 2014 at the Gregg Museum of Art and Design in Raleigh, North Carolina. The artist has been a professor of fine arts at SUNY Albany since 1978.
From the exhibition: Africa Pop Studio (April 1 – April 23, 2017)