Awon Orisa/The Gods BEGINS Jan. 13 AT UMASS MEDICAL SCHOOL

December 23, 1999

WORCESTER, Mass. – As a kick off to the University of Massachusetts Medical School's Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration, Awon Orisa/The Gods will be on display starting Jan. 13 in the Medical School lobby. This 50-photograph exhibit, which showcases the works of artist Reginald Jackson, PhD, explores the domains of the Orishas, African divinities of the Yoruba religious tradition of southwestern Nigeria. African artifacts will also displayed in the exhbit, contributed by the Tim Hamil Gallery and by the Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists in Roxbury.

By using graphic techniques within the realm of experimental photography, Dr. Jackson explores in his art the religious thought and practice of Africans who were brought in bondage from the West Africa, Angola and Mozambique to the Americas and the Caribbean. In particular, his photographs depict elements of nature that pay tribute to the spirits expressed by Yoruban Orishas, or gods.

Jackson's approach to his work is multidisciplinary in its exploration of social and cultural phenomena. Specifically, his use of West African cultural influences has been an integral part of his work. He explains, "The challenge of bringing something to the table which is uniquely your own contribution, while playing some small part in enhancing the quality of life, is what keeps me connected and committed to the creation of art."

A professor emeritus at Simmons College, Jackson helped shape the photography curriculum within the college's communications department. During his 20-year tenure at Simmons, he also served as acting director and advisor to the college's African American Studies Program and advisor to the African American Alumni Association, which he helped found in 1989. Jackson is also president of Olaleye Communications, Inc., a non-profit organization established in 1986 to promote awareness in all people of the value of African heritage, and to provide specific visual images about that heritage and the pervasiveness of its images.

Jackson earned his PhD from Union Institute in Visual Anthropology and Communications in 1979, after earning master's degrees from Yale University in fine arts and from SUNY/Stony Brook in social work. His photographs have been widely exhibited throughout the U.S. and Africa, and in Brazil, Canada, China, the Soviet Union and the Caribbean, and are currently included in the collections of the MIT Museum, Bowdoin College Museum of Art in Portland, Maine and the Studio Museum in Harlem, N.Y. He has also received various fellowships, grants and honors for his work in communications.

Awon Orisa/The Gods will be on display throughout January and February and is open for viewing 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. A presentation by Jackson titled "African Religious Retentions in the Americas: A Visual Interpretation" is scheduled for Jan. 13 at 12:15 p.m. in the Hiatt Auditorium, Room S1-608 in the Medical School, followed by the exhibit's opening reception.

Three additional exhibits will be on display through March 6, 2000: paintings by Kat O'Conner in Clinic III, Level 1 of the University hospital; paintings by Sid Solomon in Level I of the Benedict Building; and Tres En Taos, an exhibit featuring the paintings of Joanne Ball, Sandy Denis and Louise Minks in Levels II and III of Two Biotech. These exhibits are open for viewing during regular business hours.

"What's on View at UMMS Galleries" is sponsored by the University of Massachusetts Medical School Committee for Arts & Humanities. Exhibits featured in the Benedict Building, Clinic II and Biotech II are also made possible in collaboration with ARTSWorcester.

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