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Instrumental Avatars



Opening Event: September 6, 2023, 5:30pm

Location: The Art Gallery at Johnson Hall, Jackson State University

On view throughout September 2023, free and open to the public.

Performance, masquerade, dance, and music have played a significant role in African cultural expression for centuries. These art forms serve as a means of communication and storytelling, as well as a source of social and political commentary.

In the process of collection the meanings of objects are often altered, reinvented, and reconstructed when they are displaced and displayed in different contexts. Historically, displaying African objects in Western museums contributed to negative stereotypes that sought to justify colonialism. Throughout the past year, student curators have engaged with these issues and the legacy of exhibiting African masquerade as art.

This exhibition presents research into a selection of masks and musical instruments from Central and West Africa in the Department of Art’s permanent collection. It explores the significant role of masquerade and music in various cultures. The exhibition’s accompanying images and videos showcase these works in context. Above all, this exhibition celebrates masquerade as contemporary cultural expression.


Curated by Dr. Brittany Myburgh, Lee Payton, Majeska Coleman and Brian Hunter.


Opening performances by the JSU African Drum and Dance Ensemble, Greg from JStyleU and Royal Ze.