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Motlow State Community College
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Lynchburg, TN 37352-8500
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Masks of Michoacan Exhibit Opens at Motlow College on Dec. 5

November 15th, 2012

Mascaras de Michoacan, a collection of masks representing the Michoacan culture, will be displayed on the Motlow College Moore County campus from Nov. 26 through Dec. 7, according to Jeannie Brown, coordinator of international education at the college.

The public is invited to the exhibit's opening reception, scheduled for 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Dec 5th outside the Eoff Hall Art Gallery. Guests will be able to sample a variety of Mexican dishes before viewing the exhibit.

The masks, which represent all aspects of Michoacan culture, are made of wood, clay, metal, stone, feathers and vegetable by-products, with some including real hair, horns and teeth. Some believe the masks exert spiritual power, magical protection or supernatural powers over those who wear them, according to Francisco Rodriguez Onate, director of the Old Jesuit School in Patzcuaro, Michoacan.

"The masks of Michoacan are used during different types of celebrations, and the behavior of the masked dancer ranges from serious acting to mocking," Onate said. "There are masks of grandfathers and of ugly men and of young women, and masks representing hermits, friars, clowns and devils..."

Jaime Hernandez Diaz, Secretary of Culture of the Government of the State of Michoacan, explained the importance of the collection: "An essential element of human ritual, these masks are particularly important because each one of them has played a role in ceremonial dances within communities that continue to keep alive the festivities and traditions inherited from their ancestors."

The Masks of Michoacan exhibit is sponsored by the Tennessee Consortium for International Studies and has been displayed at universities in Tennessee and Kentucky. Motlow is the collection's last stop before it is returned to the Mask Museum at the Old Jesuit School.