Please join the FA2D department to celebrate renowned Professor Kofi Kayiga, as he approaches his retirement after 38 years of teaching in the MassArt Painting department!

Kofi Kayiga was born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1943. After studying at Jamaica School of Arts and Crafts, he was one of the select students to win a scholarship to the Royal College of Art in London, where he pursued a Master’s degree in Fine Art. Upon graduating, he studied African painting & printmaking at Makerere University in Uganda. 

During this time, he was adopted by the Baganda people, and given the name “Kofi Kayiga” or “most noble hunter.” Kayiga then returned to Jamaica, where he became the head of the Painting Department at the Jamaica School of Arts and Crafts. He also researched the African retention & Maroon settlements in Jamaica from 1973-78. In 1980, Kayiga traveled to the U.S. to become a lecturer at Holy Cross in Worcester, MA, from 1980-83. He began teaching at MassArt in 1981. 

Kayiga’s work has been exhibited all over the world, reflecting the struggle of the national identity in the Caribbean, metaphysical reflections of spirituality, and the idea of transformation. 

His work has been characterized as influenced by Africa and by Jamaican folklore and religious themes. In the words of the late art historian Petrine Archer-Straw, "Kayiga’s work is concerned with origins, 'primitive' in the sense of exploring the essence of human consciousness and its links with spirituality. To access this deeper understanding of the self, Kofi strips himself of his formal training and approaches his subject matter intuitively and even mystically, recovering images from deepest memory and the subconscious. His is a pantheistic world that reveals the mystery of the universe in every aspect of daily life. Inanimate objects and situations become animate and alive with animal forms, insects and cosmic creatures that remind us that the spirit world is all around us. Unlike the many artists creating during this era who were inspired by the repatriation message of Garvey and Rastafarianism, Kayiga's world is not one of idealism mediated through the diaspora experience. Instead, he is the only artist who channeled a first-hand experience of Africa into his work, resulting in an immediacy and directness that consists of bold strokes, vibrant color fields and symbolic language.”

Professor Kayiga will be the final lecturer featured in the Fall 2019 FA2D/3D Lecture Series. Please join us as we celebrate his extraordinary commitment and contribution to MassArt!

Image: Kofi Kayiga, "Spiral Journey", 2002, Mixed media 36” x 40”

Wednesday, December 4, 2019 at 11:30am to 1:00pm

Design and Media Center, Lecture Hall
621 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115

Event Type


Campus Calendar

Campus Calendar


Fine Arts 2D, Painting, Graduate Programs

Open to the Public




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