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Disguise: Masks & Global African Art

Jun 18 – Sep 7 2015

Seattle Art Museum

Simonyi Special Exhibition Galleries

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This groundbreaking exhibition will consider the past, present, and future of disguise, a visual act and psychological state that can be a mask, a costume, or just a smile. The exhibition will include 50 masks and 10 costumes from SAM’s African art collection and about 100 objects on loan. Masks from SAM’s African art collection will stimulate visitors’ imaginations as they consider disguise as animal avatars, authority figures, altered portraits, and minimalist expressions.

Disguise will take an in-depth look at contemporary artists whose work has a distinctive way of addressing the subject. All will offer a variety of ways of embodying disguise—in drawings, photographs, videos, masks, sculptures, performances, and installations. Many combine media in innovative ways, enabling disguise to evolve with a mixture of documentary and personally created imagery. Select artists will participate in site-specific installations and performances.

The exhibition is organized by the Seattle Art Museum and curated by Pamela McClusky, Curator of African and Oceanic Art for the Seattle Art Museum, and Erika Dalya Massaquoi, Consultant Curator.


​The exhibition organized by the Seattle Art Museum.

Special Exhibitions at SAM are made possible by donors to​​
​​SAM Fund for Special Exhibitions

Presenting Sponsors

The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts

Lead Grant
The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation​​​

Major Sponsors


Additional Support
ADAA Foundation Curatorial Award administered
  by the Association of Art Museum Curators​​​​​
Alaska Airlines
Christopher and Alida Latham
Contributors to the SAM Fund​​​​​

An Empathic Preparing to Paint Images from the Book Empathetic Plant Alchemy (Jillian)

Chimera from the Empathic Series, 2013, Saya Woolfalk, American, b. 1979, still from single-channel video, 4:12 minutes, © Saya Woolfalk, photo courtesy Leslie Tonkonow, Artworks + Projects, NY.