“Stars of Ethiopia: Photographs by Chester Higgins Jr.,” a series of portraits of individuals from the African nation, will be on display, for 24-hour public viewing, from March 1 through May 8 at NYU’s Windows at Kimmel Center (the corner of LaGuardia Place and West 3rd Street).
The exhibition, which includes 13 images taken from 2007 to 2010, is curated by Lydie Diakhaté, adjunct curator for special projects at the Grey Art Gallery at NYU, and organized by the Institute of African American Affairs at NYU. For more information, call 212.998.2130.
Ethiopia, with a population of 80 million, is a land of contrast and heterogeneity. The northeastern African nation is composed of more than 80 ethnic groups speaking over 80 languages, with cultural practices and traditions dating more than 3,000 years. With each portrait, Higgins seeks to create a dialogue with the viewer, revealing his subjects’ diverse homeland through their eyes.
Higgins, a staff photographer for The New York Times since 1975, has been the subject of PBS films “An American Photographer: Chester Higgins Jr.” and “BrotherMen.” His work has appeared in The New York Times Sunday Magazine, Look, Life, Newsweek, Fortune, Ebony, Essence, Black Enterprise, The Village Voice, New York Magazine, The New Yorker, and other publications. Higgins, whose photography is housed in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, is the author of the photo collections Black Woman, Drums of Life, Some Time Ago, Feeling the Spirit: Searching the World for the People of Africa, Elder Grace, and his memoir Echo of the Spirit.
Higgins believes art humanizes us. His images give voice to the unseen interior spirit and resonate with a spiritual echo, which frees them from the constraints of time. Through his interior portraits and studies of living rituals and ancient civilizations, viewers gain a rare insight into cultural behavior, a window to another place and time.
Diakhaté, a producer and art critic, is founder of K’a Yelema Productions in Paris and co-founder and co-director of the annual Real Life Documentary Festival in Accra, Ghana.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Institute of African American Affairs (IAAA) at New York University was founded in 1969 to research, document, and celebrate the cultural and intellectual production of Africa and its diaspora in the Atlantic world and beyond. IAAA is committed to the study of Blacks in modernity through concentrations in Pan-Africanism and Black Urban Studies. For more, go to http://africanastudies.as.nyu.edu/page/IAAA.