Augustana’s Eide/Dalrymple Gallery Features ‘The Face Behind the Mask: Disguising the Inner Soul’

Photograph of an Evenki mask from Siberia, twentieth century.

The Eide/Dalrymple Gallery at Augustana University opens “The Face Behind the Mask: Disguising the Inner Soul,” which will be on view from Thursday, March 18, through Friday, April 16. A gallery reception with curator’s talk will take place virtually on Friday, March 19, beginning at 7:15 p.m.

In a new exhibition opening at the Eide/Dalrymple Gallery, curator Dr. L. Adrien Hannus examines how masks have functioned across time and space in human cultural systems. Masks are the most ancient means of changing identity and assuming a new persona. They have long fascinated Hannus, since his days as a graduate student when he was first introduced to the deep literature on shamanism and the prevalence of masks within traditional cultures. 

“A shaman is a spiritual leader who can be both a magician and medicine man,” notes Hannus. “When a shaman dons a mask, it succeeds in obscuring the shaman’s worldly identity, allowing the wearer to transcend our profane space and prepare to contact the spiritual world.”  

For Hannus, this helps us both understand a range of traditional and historic cultures, but also becomes a metaphor for today. As poet and playwright Oscar Wilde once wrote, “Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask and he will tell you the truth.”

Objects in the exhibit range the world, crossing centuries of time and space. The pieces date from the late 19th century to the late 20th century. Their geographic regions of origin include Africa, New Guinea, Mexico, Korea, Sri Lanka, Europe, Northeastern Canada and the Northwest Coast of Canada. Masks in the exhibit also range from quite traditional pieces, such as a Yaqui shaman mask to several which depict European figures, like the conquistadors. Several pieces have been recently produced for the tourist industry and strongly modify traditional themes. The pieces have been selected from the Carl Grupp Permanent Art Collection at Augustana University and personal collection of Hannus. 

Hannus is the David B. Jones endowed chair and professor of anthropology at Augustana University. He was assisted in this exhibition by students in his Augustana Museum Methods course.  

1. “Pende Mask” from Zaire, twentieth century. Wood, raffia, fiber and pigment. Lent from the private collection of Dr. L. Adrien Hannus.
2. Photograph of a shaman costume, Tungus culture, Siberia, twentieth century. 
3. Photograph of a Guro mask from central Africa, twentieth century. 


About the Eide/Dalrymple Gallery

As a part of Augustana University, the mission of the Eide/Dalrymple Gallery is to contribute to the educational and cultural vitality of the University, the surrounding community, and the state of South Dakota. The Eide/Dalrymple Gallery inspires the artists of today and tomorrow, and serves as a resource for teaching and promoting life-long learning through its permanent collection and temporary exhibition program with accompanying artist visits, gallery talks, and educational materials. 

The Eide/Dalrymple Gallery is named after pioneering Augustana University art professors Palmer Eide and Ogden Dalrymple. Many of their collaborative works are spread throughout the campus.

The Eide/Dalrymple Gallery is located at 30th Street and Grange Avenue, in the Center for Visual Arts at Augustana University. The gallery is open to the public and free of charge. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., and Saturday from 1-4 p.m. The gallery is closed Sundays and major holidays. Guests must wear face masks, sanitize hands and abide by physical distancing requirements. 

Event Questions: Contact Lindsay Twa, Eide/Dalrymple Gallery director and professor of art, at 605.274.4010.

Media Inquiries: Contact Jill Wilson, public relations and communications strategist.