Reginald J. Jackson traveled to Brazil in 1978 to witness and document traditional Afro-Brazilian religious festivals connected to the Yoruba of West Africa. As a then-doctoral candidate in visual anthropology and communication, Jackson wanted to see firsthand the extent to which African religious expression had survived the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the dispersion of Africanisms across distant continents. In these photographs, Jackson captures Brazilians worshipping saintlike deities called orishas in the Afro-Brazilian religion of the Candomblé near Sao Paulo. Each deity has its own persona and domain; Ogún, for example, is a warrior, Iansã is associated with wind, and Omolú is thought to ward off pestilence and disease.
Jackson took these photographs while taking part in Northeastern’s African American Master Artists-in-Residence Program. The program seeks to preserve and expand African Americans’ artistic heritage by offering studio space, gallery opportunities, and many other resources to selected artists.
Reginald J. Jackson, professor emeritus of communications at Simmons College, is a Boston- and Ghana-based educator and visual artist who has spent more than 40 years conducting visual research on the African diaspora. He has documented Africanisms in Ghana, Nigeria, Cuba, Brazil, and the U.S.