Phyllis Galembo

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.


In her photographic work, Galembo seeks to represent African religious practices and their diasporic manifestations in the Caribbean and South America, through an exploration of masquerade. Traveling widely throughout western and central Africa, and regularly to Haiti, her subjects are participants in masquerade events—traditional African ceremonies and contemporary costume parties and carnivals— who use costume, body paint, and masks to create mythic characters. Sometimes entertaining and humorous, often dark and frightening, her portraits document and describe the transformative power of the mask. 





Out of the Whirlwind’s Radiance, 50 GOLBORNE, London

Il Palazzo Enciclopedico (The Encyclopedic Palace),la Biennale di Venezia, curated by Massimiliano Gioni. Venice, Italy

Maske: A Collection of Photographs by Phyllis Galembo, Three Squares Studio, New York, NY

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

Call and Response: Africa to America. The Art of Nick Cave and Phyllis Galembo, Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, SC, USA

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

Phyllis Galembo: Masquerade, a Decade, Steven Kasher Gallery, New York, NY 
West African Masquerade: Photographs by Phyllis Galembo, George Eastman House, Rochester, NY

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



Maske, Phyllis Galembo, first published by Chris Boot in 2010, Republished by Aperture in 2016

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

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

Aso-ebi, Cloth of the Family,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


1998 Faculty Research Award for Halloween/masquerade costumes
1996 Artists’ Fellowship, New York Foundation for the Arts, New York
1996 Catalogue Grant, New York Council for the Arts, New York
1993-94 Senior Fulbright Research Award, Kings, Chiefs and Women of Power, Nigeria

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