BIOGRAPHY

Phyllis Galembo (b. 1952)

 

Phyllis Galembo was born in New York and lives in New York City.  She graduated with a Master of Fine Arts from University of Wisconsin at Madison in 1977 and has been a professor in the Fine Arts Department of SUNY Albany since 1978.

 

Galembo has made over twenty trips to sites of ritual masquerade in Africa and the Caribbean, capturing cultural performances with a subterranean political edge. Her impressive body of photographs depicts the physical character, costumes, and rituals of African religious practices and their diasporic manifestations in the Caribbean and South America. Masking is a complex, mysterious and profound tradition in which the participants transcend the physical world and enter the spiritual realm. In her vibrant images, Galembo exposes an ornate code of political, artistic, theatrical, social, and religious symbolism and commentary.

 

Using a direct, unaffected portrait style, Galembo captures her subjects informally posed but often strikingly attired in traditional or ritualistic dress. Attuned to a moment’s collision of past, present and future, Galembo finds the timeless elegance and dignity of her subjects. Galembo’s portraiture illuminates the transformative power of costume and ritual. She highlights the creativity of the individuals morphing into a fantastical representation of themselves, having cobbled together materials gathered from the immediate environment to idealize their vision of mythical figures. Her images capture the raw and often frightening aspect of ceremonial garb. While still pronounced in their personal identity, the subject’s intentions are rooted in the larger dynamics of religious, political and cultural affiliation. Establishing these connections is a hallmark of Galembo's work.

 

Galembo’s photographs are included in numerous public and private collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the New York Public Library.  Her work has appeared in Tar Magazine, Damn Magazine, Photograph and Harpers. Galembo has appeared on CNN, NPR Radio and NBC Today.

 

REPRESENTED IN PERMANENT COLLECTIONS: 

Metropolitan Museum of Art, Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas, Photography Study Collection, New York; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Houston Museum of Art, Houston,Texas; International Center for Photography, New York, New York; British Art Museum, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut; Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library, NY; Polaroid Corporation, Boston, Massachusetts; Rockefeller Foundation, New York, NY; Amherst College, Amherst, Massachusetts; Duke University, Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Avon Corporation; Albany Institute of History and Art, Albany, New York; University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin; William Benton Museum of Art, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut; Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York; Tang Teaching Museum, Skidmore College, Saratoga, New York; Chazen Museum of Art, Madison, Wisconsin

 

SELECTED ONE-WOMAN EXHIBITIONS: 

Theater of Belief: Afro-Atlantic Costuming and Masking in Large Format Color Photographs by Phyllis Galembo, Greg Museum of Art and Design, Raleigh, North Carolina, 2014

Kings, Chiefs. Women of Power, Frankie G. Weems Art Gallery at Meredith College, Raleigh, North Carolina, 2014

Phyllis Galembo, Blue Sky Gallery, Oregon Center for Photographic Arts, 2012

Phyllis Galembo: Maske, Steven Kasher Gallery, New York, 2011

Masquerade, Phyllis Galembo and Telling Objects, Fitchburg Art Museum, Fitchburg,

MA, 2011

Call and Response: Africa to America. The Art of Nick Cave and Phyllis Galembo, Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art. May 27 - June 26, 2010

Phyllis Galembo: Masquerade, a Decade, Reflex Art Gallery, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 2009

West African Masquerade, Chazen Museum of Art University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin, 2008-2009

Phyllis Galembo: Masquerade, a Decade, Steven Kasher Gallery, New York, 2008

West African Masquerade: Photographs by Phyllis Galembo, George Eastman House, Rochester, New York, 2008

West African Masquerade: Photographs by Phyllis Galembo, The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York, 2007

Vodou and Carnival, Haitian Images by Phyllis Galembo, Tyler Art Gallery, SUNY Oswego, Oswego, New York, 2006

Phyllis Galembo, Dressed for Thrills: Halloween and Masquerade Costumes, Philip Slein Gallery, Saint Louis, MO, 2005

Phyllis Galembo, Sepia/The Alkazi Collection, New York, 2005

Dressed for Thrills: Halloween and Masquerade Costumes, Albany Institute of History and Art, 2004

Visions of Haiti, Vodou and Carnivale: Photographs by Phyllis Galembo, Mead Art Museum, Amherst College, 2004

Dressed for Thrills: Halloween and Masquerade Costumes, F.I.T. Museum, New York, 2003

Manifestations of the Spirit, Newark Museum, Newark, NY, 2002

Manifestations of the Spirit, Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C., 2001

Kings, Chiefs, Women of Power, Nigeria, La Galeria Sacred Stone, Santa Fe, 1999

Kings, Chiefs, Women of Power, Nigeria, University of Missouri, Kansas City, 1999

Kings, Chiefs, Women of Power, Nigeria, American Museum of Natural History, New York, 1998

Haitian Vodou, Cavin Morris, New York, 1996

Divine Inspiration from Benin to Bahia, Brush Gallery, St. Lawrence University, New York, 1995

National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center, Wilberforce, Ohio, 1994

Divine Inspiration from Benin to Bahia, International Center for Photography, New York City, 1993

 

SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS:

HAUTE AFRICA, Foto festival KNOKKE HEIST, Belgium, 2014

Slaves of Mimesis: Nine Years on 23rd Street, Steven Kasher Gallery, New York, 2014

Face to Face, Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 2014

The Encyclopedic Palace, Arsenale, Venice Biennale, curated by Massimilliano and Cindy Sherman, 2013

Heroic Africans, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, NY, 2011- 2012

Children of Rezistans, Haiti, AS IF Gallery, NYC, NY, 2011

International Festival of Photography in Lodz, Out of Mind, 2011

Masquerade, Phyllis Galembo and Telling Objects, Fitchburg Art Museum, Fitchburg, MA, 2011

Water, Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers University, New Jersey, 2010-2011

Islands and their Worlds, Parc de la Villette, Paris, France, 2009

S & M: Shrines and Masquerades in Cosmopolitan Times, NYU Steinhardt’s 80, Washington Square East Galleries, 2008

Mask, James Cohan Gallery, NYC, 2008

Art and Emancipation in Jamaica: Isaac Mendes Belisario and His Worlds, Yale Center for British Art, 2007

Benin Kings and Rituals, Court Arts from Nigeria, Museum fur Volkerkunde, Vienna, Austria, 2007

Far Sighted, October 26, 2007- March 30, 2008, Albany International Airport, Albany, NY, 2007

The Forest: Politics, Poetics and Practice, The Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, 2005

Saturday Night, Sunday Morning, The African American Museum in Philadelphia, 2005

Message in the Masquerade: Carnival from Brooklyn to Bahia, The Nathan Cummings Foundation, New York, New York, 2005

African Art & Costume, Axis Gallery, New York, New York, 2004

Water as Ritual, Fotofest 2004, Houston, Texas, 2004

FACES, Sepia International, New York, New York, 2003

Carnival in Brooklyn, Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn, New York, 2002

Overnight to Many Cities, The Photographers Gallery, London 303 Gallery, New York, New York, 2002

Dressing for a New York City Childhood, Museum of the City of New York, New York, New York, 2001

American Perspectives: Photographs from the Polaroid Collection, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Tokyo, 1999

Kong Criollo, Taller Boricua Gallery, New York, New York, 1998

Sacred Arts of Haitian Vodou American Museum of Natural History, New York, New York, Fowler Museum of Art, Los Angeles, California, 1998

Eye of the Beholder: Photographs from the Avon Collection, International Center for Photography, New York, New York, 1997

Miesiac Fotografii w Krakowie, Krakow, Poland, 1996

Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College Hanover, NH, 1996

Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College Hanover, NH, 1995

Russell Sage College Troy, NY, 1994

National Afro-American Museum Wilberforce, OH, 1994

Divine Inspiration from Benin to Bahia, International Center for Photography NYC, 1993

Black Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, 1993

University of North Texas, Denton, TX, 1992

State University of New York at Buffalo Buffalo, NY, 1992

Art Link Ft. Wayne, IN, 1992

James Madison University Harrisonberg, VA, 1991

 

BOOKS:

Maske, by Phyllis Galembo, published by Chris Boot, 2010

Dressed for Thrills, 100 Years of Halloween/masquerade costume, Harry Abrams Press, 2002

Vodou: Visions and Voice of Haiti, by Phyllis Galembo, introduction by Gerdes Fleurant, 10 Speed Press, 1998, reprinted 2005

Aso-ebi, Cloth of the Family, by Phyllis Galembo, essay by Dympna Ugwu-Oju, 1997, sponsored by New York Council for the Arts, Catalogue Grant

Divine Inspiration from Benin to Bahia, University of New Mexico Press, 1993. Photographs by Phyllis Galembo with essays by David Byrne, Robert Farris Thompson, Joseph Nevadomsky, Norma Rosen and Zeca Ligiero

Pale Pink, by Phyllis Galembo, Visual Studies Workshop Press, 1982

 

AWARDS:

Fellow, John Simon Guggenheim Foundation 2014

Artists Fellowship, Photography, New York Foundation for the Arts 2010-2011

University at Albany Research Award for Dressed for Thrills Exhibition 2002

Hasselblad Masters Program 2001

Faculty Research Award for Halloween/masquerade costumes 1998

Artists’ Fellowship, New York Foundation for the Arts, New York 1996

Catalogue Grant, New York Council for the Arts, New York 1996

University at Albany Faculty Research Grant for VODOU, Haiti 1995

Senior Fulbright Research Award, Kings, Chiefs and Women of Power, Nigeria 1993-94

Fulbright Travel Award, Brazil for research on book Divine Inspiration 1990

United States Information Service Academic Specialist Grant for exhibitions and lectures, Brazil 1988

Polaroid Corporation Research Materials Grant 1985, 1990, 1992

New York State Council on the Arts, Visual Artists Project Grant for Pale Pink 1982

Creative Artists in Public Service Programs (CAPS), New York, Artist Fellowship 1980

 

TEACHING:

Professor, Fine Arts Department, University at Albany, State University of New York, 1978-present

Visiting Photography Professor, Parsons School of Design, West Africa Program, Ivory Coast, Summer 1988-89