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.
Galembo’s photographs are included in numerous public and private collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the New York Public Library. Her work has appeared in Tar Magazine, Damn Magazine, Photograph and Harpers. Galembo has appeared on CNN, NPR Radio and NBC Today.
Phyllis Galembo: Maske, Boca Raton Museum of Art, Florida, USA
incarNations, BOZAR, Brussels, Belgium
Mascaras: The Other Faces of Mexico, Cavin Morris, New York, USA
Out of the Whirlwind’s Radiance, 50 GOLBORNE, London, UK
Mirror Mirror, Robeson Center Art Gallery, Rutgers University, Newark, New Jersey, USA
Steven Kasher Gallery Booth, AIPAD Photography Show, New York
Harlem Postcards, The Studio Museum in Harlem, Harlem, New York, USA
Haute Africa, Foto festival Knokke Heist, Belgium
Slaves of Mimemis, Steven Kasher Gallery, New York
Face to Face, Israel Museum, Jerusalem
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
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,
West African Masquerade: Photographs by Phyllis Galembo, The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY
Mexico, Masks & Rituals, published by Radius Books/ DAP, 2019
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