LA Commons’ signature annual event Day of the Ancestors: Festival of Masks was held on June 30th on People’s Plaza in Leimert Park, the organization’s home neighborhood. The gathering, a colorful community celebration, is a culmination of eight weeks of mask-making workshops in which participants from around Los Angeles were invited on Thursdays and Saturdays in May and June, to learn how to make traditional masks and celebrate the rituals that inspired them. The World Stage, an education and performance art space in Leimert Park Village, also contributed to the Spring workshops, opening its space for classes in African dance and music.
Day of the Ancestors: Festival of Masks began with a grand procession of costumes and masks created at the workshops, followed by a festival. The day of activities is based on a widely practiced Nigerian ritual that recognizes the contribution of ancestors to present successes. The Festival of Masks is a multicultural, multigenerational, and multimedia arts event that champions the vast identities of the African diaspora, and welcomes all Angelenos.
The event was sponsored by the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, California Arts Council through the Artworks program of the National Endowment for the Arts, LA County Department of Arts and Culture, ABC 7 / Disney, Sony Pictures Entertainment, and Comerica Bank.
The event benefited from the participation of cultural partners including the African School For Excellence in Johannesburg, South Africa, whose students designed a commemorative t-shirt that was distributed at the festival; The Come Up Market, which curated a pop-up marketplace in the plaza; as well as performances from Lula Washington Dance Theater, Fernando Pullum Performing Arts Center, DJ Nnamdi Moweta, and Magatte Fall, a Grammy-nominated master percussionist, who closed out the dynamic lineup. Reverent Kelvin Sauls, known in the Leimert community as Pastor Sauls, and a native of Johannesburg, served as the day’s MC.
To learn more about LA Commons community events, which are held in neighborhoods around Los Angeles, go to LACommons.org, or follow us on social media.
Photos by @eonfionn