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'Invoking the Spirit'
NLM Photo Exhibit Captures African Worship Traditions

To celebrate African American History Month 2003, the National Library of Medicine is exhibiting "Invoking the Spirit — Worship Traditions in the African World," a collection of more than 100 photographs by New York Times photojournalist Chester Higgins, Jr. The product of more than 25 years of travel and research, this photographic essay documents the vitality and diversity of the global African religious experience. The moving and dramatic works are on display from Feb. 10 to Mar. 7 in the first-floor lobby of the library's Lister Hill Center weekdays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., or other times by special arrangement. They are on loan from the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, a national research library in the New York Public Library system.

"Invoking the Spirit" is organized around a series of themes that explore worship practices across ethnic, cultural and religious boundaries throughout the African world. Documented are: the kinds of sacred places African peoples — in Africa and the Americas — create or consecrate; the diverse spiritual leaders involved in conducting worship activities; the universal use of prayer as a formal means of communicating with God and the spirits; the ceremonies Africans use to pay tribute to God; and the roles of music and dance in religious ceremonies.

Ethiopian Israelites, New York, 1989, by Chester Higgins, Jr.

The images presented here have been chosen from Higgins' archive of almost a million photographs that document the broader global African experience. This is the third year that NLM has featured photographs from the Schomburg collection as part of its African American History Month observance.

To arrange a tour of the exhibit or for more information, contact David Nash, 496-1046.

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