Mona Lisa 3D MaskThe Mona Lisa becomes a 3-D mask in Traditions Transfigured at Sacramento State.

Two-dimensional classical portraits become physical, three-dimensional masks in Traditions Transfigured: The Noh Masks of Bidou Yamaguchi, a free exhibit running Feb. 11-May 21 at Sacramento State’s University Library Gallery (

The exhibit opens with a special reception from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 11, at the gallery.

Noh is a form of Japanese theater that dates to the 14th century and integrates masks as well as costumes and dance in its storytelling. Yamaguchi became fascinated with the mask art form early in his career.

For Traditions Transfigured, Yamaguchi has taken some classical female portraits, such as the Mona Lisa, and created Noh masks of them, constructing three-dimensional faces for these women and bringing about a new understanding of them as more than just images.

“By doing this, the physical presence of the real person returns, so we feel we are looking at the real Mona Lisa, or at least her ghost,” says guest curator Kendall H. Brown. “Conceptually, this exhibit connects cultures across time and space, so that icons from European culture come alive in America of 2016 through the transformation of a Japanese art form.”

Regular gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

During April’s Festival of the Arts, Yamaguchi will hold a workshop series at the gallery April 15-17. He will demonstrate the fine carving and chiseling techniques of the aged wood, and the layering of paints required to make each mask.

The exhibit also will feature a lecture by Brown at 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 13; a lecture by Yamaguchi and Brown at 2 p.m. Thursday, April 14; and a lecture by Yamaguchi art collector and Sac State alumnus Steve McLeod at 2 p.m. Friday, April 15.

For more information, visit the University Library Gallery’s website or call (916) 278-4189. – Craig Koscho