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University of Tennessee Communications
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KNOXVILLE — A new photography exhibit, “El Color De La Diaspora,” detailing the African Diaspora in Ecuador will run at the University of Tennessee’s Downtown Gallery on Gay Street from Oct. 20 to Nov. 24.

The opening, set for 6:30 to 9 p.m. Oct. 20, will feature comments by UT Chancellor Loren Crabtree and an informal gallery talk with Ecuadorian photographers Juan García and Edizon León. The event is open to the public.

The exhibit signifies the beginning of a three-year agreement between UT and the Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar (UASB) in Quito, Ecuador, to establish collaborative teaching and learning opportunities.

The term African Diaspora refers to the enslavement of Africans and their forced relocation throughout the world. The history is well-known for North America, the Caribbean and Brazil, but not for Ecuador. García and León took the photographs during a 35-year period to demonstrate “that the African Diaspora is not a finished totality, but rather is an emerging living process.”

When the Spanish began exploring and colonizing Ecuador in the 16th century, they brought slaves to provide labor. Now more than one million Afro-Ecuadorians reside in Ecuador, but still experience racism.

The photographs are from the UASB’s Fondo Documental Afro-Andino, whose mission is to collect and preserve the oral memories and photographs of Afro-Ecuadorian communities.

The exhibit is one of the first collaborative project between the two schools. Future projects will focus on four main areas: Africana studies, global studies, Latin American literature and Latin American studies. The universities will host faculty and graduate students who will participate in research, enhance collaborative teaching methods through video-conferencing and streaming, and exchange library publications and services.

The agreement complements UT’s Ready for the World initiative, a comprehensive effort to better prepare students to succeed in a global economy.

“UT is proud to partner with our colleagues in Ecuador,” said Crabtree. “This exhibit and our agreement with the Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar exemplify what we are doing with Ready for the World. We want to offer our students and faculty experiences beyond their everyday lives in Knoxville. We want them to see the world through the eyes of other cultures or nationalities.”

García and León will participate in a symposium on Wednesday, Oct. 18, with Wornie Reed, director of UT’s Africana Studies program; Patricia Tinajero-Baker, an Ecuadorian artist and assistant professor in UT’s sculpture program; and Michael Handelsman, director of UT’s Latin American Studies program. The symposium is free and open to the public.

For more information contact William Dewey, associate professor of art, at 974-0651 or or visit

William Dewey, 974-0651 or
Beth Gladden, media relations, 974-9008 or