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U Black Awareness Month Program Celebrates African American Culture Through Visual Arts

"Empress of the Blues," by Romare Bearden

Jan. 31, 2005 – For nearly four decades, the University of Utah has explored and celebrated, through the African American Studies Program, the unique contributions of African Americans through its Black Awareness Month Program (BAM). This year’s lineup of events, titled “Jubilee: A Celebration of African American Culture through the Visual Arts,” represents a collaboration between the Utah Museum of Fine Arts (UMFA) and the U’s African American Studies Program and is built around two UMFA exhibits-“African American Masters: Highlights from the Smithsonian American Art Museum” and “Jazz Legends: Photographs by Herman Leonard,” from the UMFA’s collection.

For the first time, works from African American masters Jacob Lawrence, Romare Bearden, William H. Johnson, Gordon Parks, Lois Mailou Jones, Renée Stout and Henry O. Tanner will be featured on the U’s campus. The art exhibition runs through the end of February, and the photographic exhibit runs through March 13, 2005. For more information on the displays, visit

Leslie King Hammond, dean of the Maryland Art Institute, will present the BAM 2005 keynote address, titled “Shades of Afro-Deco: African American Art in the Age of Modernism.” The event will be held on Feb. 4, at 7:30 p.m., in UMFA’s Auditorium. The Calvary Baptist Mass Choir will provide music.

Other scheduled activities include the following: Short story writer/poet William Henry Lewis will read from his works on Feb. 4, at noon, in the UMFA Auditorium. On Feb. 5, at 7:30 p.m., Lewis will join jazz vocalist Tiffany Gavin at Distinctive African American Art, 357 S. 200 E., for a community reading and performance. A panel discussion, “Celebrating African American Culture,” will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 9, at noon, in the UMFA Auditorium and will include presenters Mary Francey, Courtney Smith and Kaye Richards, discussing art, music and dance respectively. Richards, who teaches in the U of U Modern Dance Department, will also perform.

Award-winning poet Nikky Finney will read from her work on Feb. 10, at 7:30 p.m., also in the UMFA Auditorium. All guests and writers will participate in an outreach effort with local school systems.

On Feb. 12, at noon, ethnomusicologist Deborah Smith Pollard, associate professor of English and Ethnic Studies at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, will present the U of U BAM 2005 closing lecture, titled “(W) Rapping the Gospel for a New Generation: Hip Hop Culture and the Black Church,” in the UMFA auditorium. The U’s BAM Program is also sponsoring several free, public exhibits on campus and throughout Salt Lake City.

  • Books displaying African American master artists and culture will be on display in the Dumke Library, located on the second floor of the U’s Marriott Library. Included alongside this exhibit will be “Photography on the Color Line,” a duplicate of the exhibit W.E.B. DuBois took to the Paris Exposition of 1900.

  • “A Gathering of Ancestral Spirits: African Art Exhibit,” from the private collection of Paul Gotay, will be on exhibit at Distinctive African American Art, 357 S., 200 E., Suite 200, throughout the month of February. More information on this exhibit may be obtained by calling 801-363-0745.

  • “Cultural Jubilee of the Diaspora,” an exhibit featuring Utah artists from Africa and the Dominican Republic, will be on display at the Patrick Moore Gallery (formerly the Forum Gallery), 511 W. 200 S. More information on this exhibit may be obtained by calling 801-521-5999.

BAM at the University is co-sponsored by American Express, Qwest, the Utah Museum of Fine Arts (UMFA), Office of the Vice President for Diversity, College of Humanities, Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs, United Security Financial Mortgage Company, Utah Humanities Council, Utah Arts Council, University of Utah Marriott Library’s Dumke Library, Calvary Baptist Church, Distinctive African American Art, Patrick Moore Gallery and Paul Gotay.

For more information on BAM events at the University, visit