“Spirit of Freedom” Exhibit Celebrates Work & Mission of Nelson Mandela

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ATC logoFOX 50 logo “Spirit of Freedom” Exhibit Celebrates Work & Mission of Nelson Mandela
American Tobacco To Welcome Public to View Artwork

“Nelson Mandela is the toughest, strongest person that I know of, yet the gentlest.  You pick that up in his artwork.”
– CBC President & CEO Jim Goodmon

The artwork of Nelson Mandela is dramatically unveiled at a reception at American Tobacco on Thurs, Jan 25th.

GlaxoSmithKline US Pharma Diversity Director Lynn Henderson once saw Nelson Mandela along with a cheering crowd of 750,000 along the streets of New York.   “It was the most thrilling and moving and momentous event of my life…until tonight,” she told a group at the unveiling of Mandela’s artwork in downtown Durham. 

A crowd of special guests gathered for an exclusive preview of the Mandela works in American Tobacco’s Bay 7 in downtown Durham.  A VIP reception accompanied the unveiling on Thursday, January 25, 2007, at 6pm.

“Spirit of Freedom:  Drawings & Narratives from Nelson Mandela’s Imprisonment at Robben Island” features several numbered & signed lithographs and will be on display for the public in the Strickland Building on the American Tobacco Campus from February 1 – April 27. 

Viewing artwork
Guests are in awe of the artwork, taking time to pour over the pieces with their eyes.
Saxophone player
Jazz music sets the mood.
Cindy SInk & Peter Anlyan
Cindy Sink (left) & Peter Anlyan greet new arrivals at the door. Sink’s Shoestring Creative Group helped with media for the event.

CBC President & CEO Jim Goodmon purchased the pieces on a trip he took to South Africa last year.  The lithographs grabbed him, and he couldn’t get them off his mind.  He had toured Robben Island – a former prisoner served as guide – and later passed an art gallery.  He saw a piece that he knew had to be of Robben Island which caught his attention.  He was amazed to find that Nelson Mandela himself had created the pieces and visited the gallery twice that same day.  Goodmon was so moved that he abandoned his group mid-tour in another part of South Africa the next day, took a cab back to the gallery, and purchased them. 

Jim Goodmon
CBC President & CEO Jim Goodmon tells the tale of how Mandela’s artwork spoke to him. He purchased the pieces on a trip to South Africa.
Marion Youngblood, Paul Pope & Alice Sharpe
Marion Youngblood (l to r), Paul Pope & Alice Sharpe celebrate at the event. Youngblood put the event together under the direction of Pope.

Goodmon told American Tobacco General Manager Paul Pope he wanted to share them, for others to see them, so Pope put together an exhibit to welcome the public to see the amazingly simple yet moving work of South Africa’s anti-apartheid leader, champion of equality and freedom.

“This is a milestone for North Carolina and for American Tobacco,” said Pope.  “It’s one of our biggest exhibits.”

Nelson Mandela spent 27 years as a political prisoner in his native country, almost 20 years of which he spent on Robben Island working in a quarry.  He spoke of his existence as being devoid of color.  The walls were gray, the prison guards wore khaki, white was relief. 

“Exposure to other colors was limited and very brief,” said Mandela.  He spent “27 long years with an occasional glimpse of the bright colors that enrich lives, and then came freedom.”

After being freed, Mandela said he felt “like a person who had regained the power of sight.”  He “needed to share this rich experience of color, [and it] became a celebration to add color to charcoal drawings.”

Spirit of Freedom makes history in Durham.
Generations unite as NC NAACP President Rev. William Barber (right) greets the youngest reception visitor, introducing him to Mandela.
The exhibit contains lithographs of Mandela’s charcoal drawings along with photographs of the actual scenes he depicts of the prison.

Along with CBC and American Tobacco, FOX 50, GlaxoSmithKline and Idearc Media are serving as sponsors of   “Spirit of Freedom:Drawings & Narratives from Nelson Mandela’s Imprisonment at Robben Island.”  The exhibit is free, open to the public, and will be on display from February 1 – April 27.  The exhibition area is open Monday – Sunday 9am-6pm.  Groups of 10 or more are welcome but must register online at the American Tobacco website.

Viewing artwork
Part of the power of the artwork is knowing the experience of Mandela and what depicting it meant to him.
A Little About Mandela
In the winter of 1964, Nelson Mandela arrived on Robben Island where he would spend 18 of his 27 prison years.  Confined to a small cell, the floor his bed, a bucket for a toilet, he was forced to do hard labor in a quarry.  He was allowed one visitor per year for 30 minutes, and he could write and receive one letter every six months.  But Robben Island became the crucible that transformed him.  Decades later, he emerged a mature leader who would create a new democratic South Africa.
Mother teaching son
A mother reads the words of Mandela to her son, teaching a youngster about the great icon.
Reception attendees enjoy a buffet before the unveiling.
Claudia Henry
FOX 50’s Claudia Henry comes to see the pieces firsthand.
Jim Goodmon & Rev. William Barber
A meeting of the minds: CBC President & CEO Jim Goodmon (left) & NC NAACP President Rev. William Barber talk about Mandela’s legacy.
Kevin Kolbe & Gayle Hardy
FOX 50’s Kevin Kolbe (left) celebrates the achievements & work of his colleague Gayle Hardy, who helped design and create publicity materials for the exhibition.
Paul Pope
ATC General Manager Paul Pope speaks proudly of sharing Mandela’s art with the public.
Viewing art
Guests take time to really absorb Mandela’s art, reflecting on his struggles and his triumphs.
Tye Singleton
Idearc Media Regional Account Manager Tye Singleton says he is “proud to share with you this extraordinary experience.”
James Farmer
WRAL-TV’s James Farmer traveled from Raleigh to be part of the event.
Sylvia Lanier & Susan Furr
FOX 50’s Sylvia Lanier (left) & Susan Furr greet guests at the door, a culmination of their work at helping put the exhibition together.
John Brown Quartet
The John Brown Quartet welcomes guests with music and then play throughout the event.
Lynn Henderson
(see caption right)
“This is historic for Durham.  [It shows] a commitment to diversity and to education of the people of Durham and beyond about the man Mandela and what he stands for,” says Lynn Henderson (left), Director US Pharma Diversity for GlaxoSmithKline.

POSTED: January 29, 2007

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