March 30, 2004
Director of Media Relations

AMHERST, Mass.- Nigerian writer Wole Soyinka, the 1986 Nobel laureate in literature, will give a lecture, "Orisa and Yoruba Humanism," at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 14, in Johnson Chapel. A reception will follow in the Mead Art Museum, which is sponsoring Soyinka's talk.

Soyinka, who won the Nobel Prize at age 55, is considered one of the finest poetical playwrights in English, combining Yoruba traditions and western culture. In his five-decade career, he has published more than 50 works, including The Open Sore of a Continent; Lion and the Jewel; Death and the King's Horseman; Madmen and Specialists; Art, Dialogue and Outrage and A Play of Giants. Imprisoned during Nigeria's civil war, he writes frequently about human survival, anger and forgiveness.

Soyinka's talk is part of Cloth Only Wears to Shreds: Yoruba Textiles and Photographs from the Beier Collection, the show that the Mead Art Museum of Amherst College is presenting from its recently acquired world-renowned collection of over 160 Yoruba textiles from Ulli and Georgina Beier, together with photographs and videos that document the function and social presence of these textiles in Nigeria. Soyinka is a long, close associate of Ulli Beier. The fabrics and garments will be on view at the Mead from Feb. 5 until May 16; the Robert Frost Library exhibition of photographs will be on view from Feb. 5 until April 19.

The exhibition, catalog and related events were made possible by the Howard A. Newton (Class of 1906) Fund, the National Endowment for the Humanities Library Fund, the Willis D. Wood Fund of the Department of Religion, the Hall and Kate Peterson Fund, the David W. Mesker (Class of 1953) Fund, the Amherst Arts Series Fund and the Office of the President.

The Mead Art Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Thursday evenings until 9 p.m. More information can be obtained on the museum's Website at or by calling the museum at 413/542-2335. All events are free and open to the public.