January 2024 marked the 20th annual exhibit of rainforest masks from Costa Rica at Selby Gardens in Sarasota, FL.  With 350 extraordinary works by artists from the indigenous community of Boruca, Costa Rica, once again the event was the largest display in the world of Borucan art. All visitors from children to collectors enjoyed the diversity and bright colors on display.

20th Anniversary Borucan Mask Exhibit

Mask Show 2024

The 2024 exhibit celebrated founder Lauren Jawer and Selby employee Marilynn Shelly, who originally connected Selby Gardens and the Sarasota community with the artists. Featuring a traditional mask by Don Ismael and village photos by insider Pica Lockwood, visitors experienced the flora, fauna and culture of Costa Rica through the eyes of indigenous artists.

The Borucan people attribute their survival as a tribe to the use of "diablito" masks by their ancestors to resist the Spanish invasion. The village annually re-enacts the encounter with the Spanish during a 3 day festival featuring warriors wearing spectacular masks fighting other warriors dressed as a bull representing the invaders.

Mask buyers admire the show.

During the dire economic conditions of the early 1990s, many young people left the village and the elders feared a loss of their culture and tradition of mask making.  Fortunately, one man, Don Ismael González founded a mask carving school with 12 young boys between 10 and 12 years of age. They first learned classic wood carving and mask making. Later 2 Costa Rican artists learned of the carving school and found funding to teach those boys to paint. Thus by the mid 1990s Borucans began to paint their masks, and tourists quickly became enamored with this unique, naive art with a strong cultural connection.

While the exhibit has ended for this year, we invite you to see these splendid pieces through photos and videos until next January.

Selby Exhibit History