NARRATOR: This mask is different from every other mask in this gallery… because it would have been worn and performed by a woman. Female masking performances are rare in Africa. The Sowei mask plays an important role in the all-female Sande Society. This society is a lifelong network of women among the Vai, Mende and neighboring peoples in present-day Sierra Leone.
CHRISTRAUD GEARY: Now if you look at the Portuguese soldier, there are certain details that I don’t want you to miss. One is that everything is articulated in the greatest detail. Look at his hands, they’re beautifully done, and look at the fact that you can see his fingernails, even. Look at his feet, same thing, they’re beautifully executed.
RONNI BAER: When I first looked at this painting in the context of this exhibition, I asked myself, “How can we tell the difference between a mistress…
July 16, 2011–March 4, 2012