Rainforest Masks of Costa Rica 2014

10-Year Anniversary & Cultural Heritage Celebration

March 7 – April 18

Centuries ago when the natives of Boruca, Costa Rica needed a way to protect themselves against invading conquistadors, they turned to their native environment for help. Balsa and Cedar trees were abundant. So they began carving ornate, menacing masks with malevolent spirits, known as Diablitos, to scare away any would-be conquerors.

The March 7 opening will also mark the 10th anniversary of this enormously popular exhibition. Visitors to Selby Gardens’ Museum of Botany & the Arts will be astounded by the newest collection of hand carved masks from these talented Costa Rican craftsmen! This year’s exhibit and sale boasts a collection of nearly 300 brightly colored and fanciful masks that reflect the native flora and fauna of the Central American country, as well as the evil spirit masks. A preview reception will be held Thursday, March 6 from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm.

Many of the artists are descended from the original mask carver families. In the years since the annual tradition began at Selby, a wonderful cross cultural exchange has been fostered. The Borucan villagers have become extended family to the Gardens and vice versa. As a result of the interplay, Selby’s botany team is conducting exploratory discussions with tribal chiefs and Costa Rican university officials about future plant inventories and expeditions. Proceeds from the mask sales provide valuable financial support to the village and support the Gardens’ mission and scientific work.

More ways to learn more about these fascinating and gifted artists, their culture and region:

Meet the Artists
March 8, 9, 15 & 16 1PM – 3PM
A unique opportunity to meet the Borcucans, observe their artistic ability and experience the passion for nature conveyed in their work.  A Spanish translator will be present to help with questions and answers.

Every Mask Tells a Story
March 12 12PM – 1PM
Discover how the masks reveal each artist’s distinctive personality while preserving their profound respect for the culture and community they share. Details

Create Your Own Rainforest Mask (Class is Full)
March 13 10AM – 2PM
Paint an authentic rainforest mask alongside Borucan artists to commemorate 10 years of rainforest art.  What vibrant colors will you select to capture your inner “devil”?  Details

Entertaining Tropical Style
March 24 11:30AM-2PM
Three-course cooking class led by Chef Paul Mattison

Rainforest-Inspired Writing Workshop
April 4 1PM-5PM
This writers’ retreat uses the incredibly fanciful artwork of the rainforest masks as inspiration. Details

Little Sprouts’ Club: The Rainforest from A to Z
March 4, 5 & 8 and April 1, 2 & 5

Rainforest Friends
March 29 You Don’t Need Feet to Dance with Sidiki Conde
April 19 Music of the Rainforest with Stephanie Heidemann

Congratulations to Patricia Chmiclewski - who had the winning ticket for this year's Chance Drawing Mask!