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Department of Art | Johnson Hall

The Art Gallery

Exhibitions located in the Johnson Hall art gallery are open to the public.
View information on our current exhibitions and events below. 

Opening 6 September

Instrumental Avatars

Channeling Power Through Masks and Music

Performance, masquerade, dance, and music have played a significant role in African cultural expression for centuries. These art forms serve as a means of communication and storytelling, as well as a source of social and political commentary. 

In the process of collection the meanings of objects are often altered, reinvented, and reconstructed when they are displaced and displayed in different contexts. Historically, displaying African objects in Western museums contributed to negative stereotypes that sought to justify colonialism. Throughout the past year, student curators have engaged with these issues and the legacy of exhibiting African masquerade as art.

This exhibition presents research into a selection of masks and musical instruments from Central and West Africa in the Department of Art’s permanent collection. It explores the significant role of masquerade and music in various cultures. The exhibition’s accompanying images and videos showcase these works in context. Above all, this exhibition celebrates masquerade as contemporary cultural expression.

FALL 2023 Exhibitions

  • Instrumental Avatars | September 2023
  • JSU Homecoming Legacy: Connecting The Past to The Future | October 6
  • Roy Lewis: The Phillis Wheatley Festival | October 23
  • Art Matters: JSU Sophmore Review | November 27


As the Department of Art’s teaching and research gallery, we cannot accommodate programming requests that are unrelated to the mission of the department, and all requests must be submitted two months prior. Requests will be reviewed on a case by case basis by the Chair and Gallery Committee in relation to gallery policies. 

If a date is available, please contact the Department of Art with exhibition proposals and requests. Our calendar is planned by an exhibition committee one year in advance. We now invite proposals for exhibitions that will be held between September 1st 2024 and May 1st 2025. Submissions should be submitted by July 1st 2023. 



The Jackson State University Art Collection is a result of over 70 years of collecting artwork to support cultural and civic engagement amongst students and the public. The collection was founded by Lawrence Arthur Jones, the first chair of the Art Department, who began to collect artwork that would provide students with access to diverse forms of cultural expression. 

The JSU Art Collection is now housed in the new Johnson Hall, which is a 30,000 square foot facility constructed on the site of the old Johnson Hall. This new space supports climate controlled storage facilities for the JSU art collection. The collection is a valuable research and teaching resource, and is open to the public and researchers.

Please contact the curator for further information. 

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