NCCU Art Professor Honored by Ethiopian Prime Minister

Posted May 05, 2021, 10:51AM
Dr. Achamyeleh Debela

Professor Achamyeleh Debela, of the North Carolina Central University Department of Art and Design, was recently honored for contributions to the arts and patriotism in his native country of Ethiopia.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia presented the life time achievement award to Debela during a ceremony held at Entoto Park in the African nation. Debela and renowned artists were honored with a gold medal.

“I teach from the strength of my experience, and allow students to develop thought patterns about a subject or a problem to think like an artist or designer whose curiosity and research would lead them towards creative solutions,” Debela said. “I like students to undertake their learning while I’m available to guide and facilitate their discovery.”

Debela is an Ethiopian-born artist who is recognized internationally for works focusing on themes of Ethiopian and African history and contemporary culture. He is also a human rights advocate which is reflected in some his work.

Before joining NCCU in 1990, he served as a curator at Morgan State University’s James E. Lewis Museum of Art he also served on the faculty at the university. Debela also provided instruction at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

Debela was recognized with the Award for Teaching Excellence from NCCU in 2000 and 2004. In 2016, the Society of Ethiopians in the Diaspora presented Debela with a life time achievement award in recognition of his contribution towards contemporary African art and culture.

His work has been featured in the NCCU Museum of Art, including a 2015 exhibit of drawings from his studies in Nigeria in the 1970s that were recently recovered. He also has held exhibits at the National Museum of African Art, the Ethiopian National Museum in Addis Ababa, the Smithsonian Institution, and the North Carolina Museum of Art. He has also participated in international exhibits in Australia, Austria, Germany and Sweden among others.

Debela graduated from the Addis Ababa's School of Fine Arts in 1967 and earned his BFA from Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, Nigeria, in 1972. He later relocated to Baltimore, Maryland, where he earned a master’s degree from Morgan State and a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Maryland Institute College of Art. He also earned a doctoral degree in computer graphics and art education from Ohio State University.

Prime Minister Ahmed also recognized Ethiopian filmmaker and Howard University professor Haile Gerima at the April 8 ceremony.

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