This exhibition features 80 masks depicting animals, folk personae, and historical figures that are deeply rooted in Guatemalan religiosity and popular culture. Throughout the country, people perform spectacular masquerades during Indigenous festivals, Catholic feast days, and secular events. These public dance-dramas are jubilant expressions of devotion and community identity. Also included are examples of timeworn handwritten scripts that guide the performers as well as photographs of dances taken by Jim and Jeanne Pieper during research trips. The masks, scripts, and images bring to life mythological, legendary, and archetypal characters that integrate Indigenous, colonial Spanish, and postcolonial Guatemalan themes.
Guatemalan Masks: Selections from the Jim and Jeanne Pieper Collection is organized by the Fowler Museum at UCLA and curated by Patrick A. Polk, Curator of Latin American and Caribbean Popular Arts. The exhibition is generously supported by a gift from the Pieper family with additional funding from the Donald Bush Cordry Memorial Fund and the George R. and Nancy L. Ellis Endowment.
All works on view are part of the Jim and Jeanne Pieper Collection, a promised gift to the Fowler Museum at UCLA.
Watch the exhibition trailer: