The exuberant creativity, color, and pageantry that is Carnaval comes to the Saint Mary’s College Museum of Art. The sights and sounds of Carnaval in New Orleans, Mexico, Bolivia, Brazil, Trinidad, Italy, Spain, and Switzerland are on display in one of the Museum’s liveliest exhibitions ever. Costumes, headdresses, masks, musical instruments, plus videos of performances and parades, show the history and traditions of Carnaval, and its often outlandish and ribald behavior.
Carnaval is a rich tradition of partying before Lent’s 40 days of penance. In Carnaval everything shifts. The social order is overturned as masks and elaborate costumes conceal identities. The poor and powerless can become kings and queens for a day. Everyone - rich or poor, young or old - breaks loose in spectacular ways. Yet it is distinctly different in each region, and the Carnaval exhibition shows this diversity.
In Venice, Carnevale has flourished from the 12th century. On display are its elegant masks that are collected as works of art. In Brazil, huge crowds play frevo music and dance the passo. In Mexico, men dress as French nobility perform burlesque dances. In New Orleans, the famed Mardi Gras krewes work year round to prepare for their famous floats, costumes, music and parades.
This exhibition has been made possible by NEH on the Road, a special initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities. It was curated by Barbara Mauldin, Ph.D., curator of Latin American Collections, Museum of International Folk Art, and is toured by Mid-America Arts Alliance.