The San Diego African American Museum of Fine Art Presents a Special Virtual Exhibit, African Masks…The Art of Masquerade

February 10, 2021, San Diego, CA-On Wednesday, February 10, the San Diego African American Museum of Fine Art (SDAAMFA) will unveil a new virtual exhibit, African Mask…The Art of Masquerade.

For art collectors all over the world, African masks are beautiful artistic objects admired and in high demand. For Africans, the mask is an integral part of the costumes used in ceremonies, rituals, initiations, secret societies, and celebrations. These activities are accompanied by song, dance, and music played with traditional African musical instruments. Performance has always played an essential role in African communities and it is the art of masquerade that was used to communicate with spiritual beings and ancestors, heal those who are afflicted, ensure a good harvest as well as fulfill other essential needs.  The masquerade reinforces societal ideologies and provides a means to maintain social order.

This virtual exhibition focuses on the complexity of African masquerades by highlighting the masks worn by Performers. It should be noted, that while the masks represented in the exhibit are static images, true African masquerade is performative, with dynamic costumes that cover the bodies of the performers. Additional photographs are included in the exhibit to provide the cultural context in which the mask should be viewed. We have also included a detailed description of the purpose and symbolism to aid viewers in appreciating the rich cultural history of African masquerade which dates back thousands of years.

The exhibit is available on the museum website at

The exhibit features Mask which is part of a larger African Art collection, formerly owned by Al and Betty Waxman and recently donated to SDAAMFA by their daughters Sheri Roseman and Denise Miller. The Waxman Collection is the largest permanent African Art collection received by SDAAMFA to date. The collection includes a variety of African art pieces that celebrate the traditional customs and tribal life of several countries in Africa.

 About the San Diego African American Museum of Fine Art

The San Diego African American Museum of Fine Art was established in 1992. A decade after its opening, the museum’s activities went dormant. In 2013, a small group of individuals came together to reestablish SDAAMFA. The purpose of this museum is to present and preserve the art of African Americans globally. The museum’s programming is curated with the goal of educating those who are interested in learning and impress even the most seasoned art enthusiast.

Source: San Diego African American Museum of Fine Art