Centro: Masks from the Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art Collection

Centro
Feb. 21, 2020

Centro: Mask Selections from the Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art Collection

Michael C. and Mannetta Braunstein Gallery
Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Exhibition Dates

March 27, 2020 - February 2021

Opening Reception

For everyone's safety and peace of mind, we have decided to postpone our reception on March 27th until further notice. We'll let you know when the event has been rescheduled.

The symbol of the mask has long been an object of identity and mis-identity in Mexican culture. Evidence of masks and their uses can be traced back thousands of years to the ancestors of the region’s indigenous peoples.

In pre-Hispanic Mexico, masks were brought to life through the use of dance. Early societies used ceremonial dances to praise their gods, hoping to bring fertility and good weather for crops. Worshippers in pre-Hispanic Mexico venerated the four cardinal directions, sometimes known as the four winds. Each direction had a color that corresponded to it and was commonly used in masks to represent specific purposes and meanings. Among the Aztecs, black was used for North, blue for South, red for East, white for West, and yellow for the multidirectional central point.

The traditional ceremonies underwent a change when Europeans arrived as Christianity was imposed on Mesoamerica. The dances were modified to reflect Christian beliefs and Christian festivities, while the masks became less zoomorphic and adopted more recognizably human characteristics. Design elements that survived from pre-Hispanic times were not always understood by the newcomers. Thus, a mask that suggested the threatening features of the Aztec underworld deity Mictlantecuhtli was acceptable to Christian settlers because they believed they were seeing a representation of the biblical Devil. This meant that many indigenous people continued to perform their dances with the same symbolism and religious meaning as their ancestors. Through this form of rebellion, they maintained some of the traditions the Europeans sought to extinguish.

The collection of masks for the exhibition CENTRO (in English Center), show how the merging of cultures between pre-Hispanic peoples and Europeans produced a fusion of visual themes that would eventually carry over into Mexican culture as a whole. While the introduction of a new religion overtly altered the purpose of the masks, many of them still incorporate traditional zoomorphic forms such as lizards, or references to the colors of the four cardinal directions. Our curator chose to paint the gallery walls yellow to reflect the Aztec notion of a space as a central point that can be occupied by multiple directions at once. Centro was curated by Javier Sanchez, an artist based in Las Vegas. 


About the UNLV College of Fine Arts

Located on the main campus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, the UNLV College of Fine Arts offers graduate degrees in Art, Architecture, Film, Music, Dance, Theatre, and Entertainment Engineering and Design, a unique discipline that combines engineering with technical theatre training. The College’s facilities include theaters and contemporary art galleries as well as the Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art. 

About the Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art

The Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art believes everyone deserves access to the arts. Located on the campus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, the Barrick promotes a powerful awareness of the arts through programs of exhibitions, workshops, lectures, and community activities. 

Press Contact

Alisha Kerlin, Executive Director, Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art 702-895-1402 alisha.kerlin@unlv.edu Jennifer Vaughan, B.A., Communications Director, College of Fine Arts 702-895-1575 jennifer.vaughan@ unlv.edu

Find Us

The Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art is located in the heart of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas campus. The museum is easily accessed from the west side of campus at the intersection of Harmon Avenue and Swenson Street. Drive east on East Harmon Ave until the road enters the campus and terminates in a parking lot. The Museum will be on your right, next to a desert landscape garden.

Parking

Visitors may park in metered, staff and student spots free of charge after 7 pm on weekdays, 1 pm on Fridays, and all day Saturday. Daily, weekly, or monthly permits can be purchased from Parking and Transportation Services. Metered parking spaces for visitors can be found in the parking lot outside the Barrick’s entrance, along East Harmon Ave, and in the lot behind the Lied Library. Other metered green zones are available in the Cottage Grove Avenue Parking Garage and parking areas throughout campus.

Free Admission

The Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art believes everyone deserves access to the arts.

Find Us

The Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art is located in the heart of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas campus. The museum is easily accessed from the west side of campus at the intersection of Harmon Avenue and Swenson Street. Drive east on East Harmon Ave until the road enters the campus and terminates in a parking lot. The Museum will be on your right, next to a desert landscape garden.

View our location in Google Maps

Parking

Visitors may park in metered, staff and student spots free of charge after 7 p.m. on weekdays, 1 p.m. on Fridays, and all day Saturday. Daily, weekly, or monthly permits can be purchased from Parking and Transportation Services. Metered parking spaces for visitors can be found in the parking lot outside the Barrick’s entrance, along East Harmon Ave, and in the lot behind the Lied Library. Other metered green zones are available in the Cottage Grove Avenue Parking Garage and parking areas throughout campus.