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Past Exhibitions

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Leonce Raphael Agbodjelou

From Hiz Hands, 2010, Brenda​n Fernandes.

Disguise: Masks & Global African Art

Jun 18 – Sep 7 2015

Seattle Art Museum

Simonyi Special Exhibition Galleries

Enter a new mask—one for the 21st century: it’s startling and joyful but also serious and menacing. When our experiences become difficult or curious, how do we confront what can’t be explained?

One option is to shake it out by adopting disguises and staging a masquerade.

Contemporary artists from Africa and of African descent explore this impulse by filling the galleries with inventive avatars and provocative new myths, taking us on mysterious journeys through city streets and futuristic landscapes.

Disguise: Masks and Global African Art is curated by Pamela McClusky, Curator of African and Oceanic Art for the Seattle Art Museum, and Erika Dalya Massaquoi, Consultant Curator.


Jacob Dwight


Lighted imagery and information share an affinity with the human brain.

Jakob Dwight​​

The Autonomous Prism / MSK03, 2010-2014 

Zina Saro-Wiwa

We create whirl-​winds...

Zina Saro-Wiwa​

The Invisible Man, 2014

Brendan Fernandes show how we keep the fake idea of the primitive alive.

Brendan Fernandes​​

Dada Afrika IV, 2010

Jacolby Satterwhite


By not having a face, I become a prop in the space.

Jacolby Satterwhite

En Plein Air: Abduction II, 2014

Nandipha Mntambo


I think we all have a dark, animalistic side of ourselves.

​Nandipha Mntambo

Europa, 2008 

Wura-Natasha Ogunji

I want to interrupt someone's daily journey with something different.


Wura-Natasha Ogunji

An Ancestor Takes a Photograph, 2014​ 

Walter Oltmann


My woven suits reflect very overtly on our preoccupation with barriers and defences in our society.

Walter Oltmann

Bristle Disguise (detail), 2014

Saya Woolfalk

I construct objects, bodies, and landscapes to immerse us in the logic of another place.

Saya Woolfalk​​

ChimaTEK: Virtual Chimeric Space, 2015

Sam Venon

I'm attracted to the notion of the sublime.

Sam Vernon​​

How Ghosts Sleep (Seattle): Hive (Detail), 2015

Disguise Catalogue

To learn more about the past, present, and future of disguise, pick up a copy of the exhibition catalogue, written by Seattle Art Museum Curator of African and Oceanic Art Pam McClusky and Consultant Curator Erika Dalya Massaquoi. Guest essays by: Jakob Dwight, Brendan Fernandes, Nandipha Mntambo, Emeka Ogboh, Wura-Natasha Ogunji, Walter Oltmann, Zina Saro-Wiwa, Jacolby Satterwhite, Sam Vernon, and Saya Woolfalk. (Published by The Seattle Art Museum in Association with Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2015). ​​

exhibition support​

The exhibition is organized by the Seattle Art Museum.

Special exhibitions at SAM are made possible by donors to​​
​​SAM Fund for Special Exhibitions

Presenting Sponsors

The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts

Lead Grants
The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation​​​
National Endowment for the Arts​​​

Major Sponsors


Additional Support
ADAA Foundation Curatorial Award administered
  by the Association of Art Museum Curators​​​​​
Alaska Airlines
Christopher and Alida Latham
Josef Vascovitz and Lisa Goodman
Contributors to the SAM Fund​​​​​​​​​​

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IMAGES: From Hiz Hands, 2010, Brendan Fernandes, Kenya/Canada, b. 1979, 3 neon-on-glass-frame signs, loan from the artist. © Brendan Fernandes, Photo courtesy of the artist. The Autonomous Prism / MSK03 (video still), 2010-2014, Jakob Dwight, American, b. 1977, 16 digital videos, looped in continuous playback, DVD for plasma or projection, 4+ minutes, Seattle Art Museum, Commission, 2015. © Jakob Dwight, courtesy of the artist. The Invisible Man Series, 2015, Zina Saro-Wiwa, United States/United Kingdom/Nigeria, b. 1976, exhibition print, 30 x 50 in., Seattle Art Museum, Commission, 2015. © Zina Saro-Wiwa, Photo courtesy of the artist. Dada Afrika IV, 2010, Brendan Fernandes, Kenya/Canada, b. 1979, animation with sound and mixed media installation, loan from the artist. © Brendan Fernandes, Photo courtesy of the artist. En Plein Air: Abduction II, 2014, Jacolby Satterwhite, United States, b. 1986, C-print in artist's frame, 84 x 60 in., loan from the artist and OHWOW Gallery, Los Angeles. © Jacolby Satterwhite, Photo courtesy of OHWOW Gallery, Los Angeles. Europa, 2008, Nandipha Mntambo, South Africa, b. 1982, exhibition print, photographic composite by Tony Meintjes, 31 1/2 x 31 1/2 in., loan from the artist and STEVENSON, Cape Town and Johannesburg. © Nandipha Mntambo, Photo courtesy of STEVENSON, Cape Town and Johannesburg. An Ancestor Takes a Photograph, 2014, Wura-Natasha Ogunji, United States/Nigeria, b. 1970, video, filmed in Lagos, Nigeria, Seattle Art Museum, Commission, 2015. © Wura-Natasha Ogunji. Bristle Disguise (detail), 2014, Walter Oltmann, South Africa, b. 1952, aluminum wire, 47 1/4 x 30 11/16 x 21 1/4 in., Seattle Art Museum, Promised gift of Vascovitz Family. © Walter Oltmann, Photo: Anthea Pokroy, courtesy of the artist and Goodman Gallery. ChimaTEK: Virtual Chimeric Space, 2015, Saya Woolfalk, United States, b. 1979, installation with five costumes with 3-D masks and video, dimensions variable, Seattle Art Museum, Commission, 2015. © Saya Woolfalk, Courtesy of the artist and Leslie Tonkonow, Artworks + Projects, NY. How Ghosts Sleep (Seattle): Hive (detail), 2014, Sam Vernon, American, b. 1987, digital collage, wallpaper, Seattle Art Museum, Commission, 2015. © Sam Vernon, image courtesy of the artist, graphic design: Loide Marwanga.​​​​