In cultures all over the world, masks have been worn to protect, excite, amuse, provoke fear, and symbolize social status. Perhaps nowhere is this tradition of masking as rich as in Mexico where masks have played an important part in the social, religious, and recreational lives of people since pre-Columbian times. This exhibition will feature over 200 masks from the collection of Michigan-based collectors Terri and Helmuth Goede, who have collected these masks over 30 years of travel to different regions of Mexico.
Masks transport the wearer from the ordinary world to one which is out of reach. Masks serve as a vehicle through which tensions are released, dilemmas resolved, social taboos bridged, and communications established.
In Mexico, like in other world regions, the human face has long been a symbol that is directly related to the soul. Many indigenous groups in Mexico believe that each individual has two souls: one resides in the head, the other in the heart. For these indigenous groups, covering the face with a mask is the equivalent of temporarily removing the identity of the soul of the mask wearer and substituting it with a new face - that is, a new ego, a new persona, a new soul.
Helmuth and Terrie Goede