College of Arts and Sciences

The photography exhibit "Muslim/American, American/Muslim" by Robert E. Gerhardt opens Nov. 5 at 4 p.m. at the Fielding Wright Art Center Gallery on the campus of Delta State.

Art gallery to exhibit Gerhardt’s photography

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The photography exhibit “Muslim/American, American/Muslim” by New York photographer Robert E. Gerhardt opens to the public Nov. 5 at 4 p.m. at the Fielding Wright Art Center Gallery on the campus of Delta State. The show will remain in the gallery until Dec. 11.

Gerhardt will introduce the exhibit and speak about his work at a public reception. The event also serves as an opportunity to meet the artist from 5-7 p.m. The lecture and reception are free and open to the public.

Gerhardt was introduced to photography via sociology and anthropology, and he became hooked on the medim when he took a class about documenting research projects. His interest in studying social behavior and human nature is apparent in his photographic work.

His series “The Straphangers” presents the diversity of New York as seen in its subways. “Life on the Border: The Karen People of Burma” documents the struggle of the Karen people confined to refugee camps at the border between Burma and Thailand. His most recent series, “Mic Check,” focuses on the #BlackLivesMatter movement and public protests.

Gerhardt became interested in documenting Muslim cultures in the United States “in 2010 after reading about a controversy over converting an unused convent on Staten Island in New York into a mosque and community center. Many local residents vehemently protested the intended repurposing at various community board meetings, including the shouting-down of a U.S. Army officer who simply asked if people would be willing to be good neighbors with the mosque.”

He contacted the Muslim American Society, which was behind the community center, and was invited to visit and photograph the society’s Brooklyn chapter. He spent several days a week at the center over the next year, where he came to know the members of the community and was invited to schools and homes where he learned about the everyday encounters with prejudice Muslims face in the post 9/11 era.

Gerhardt went on to photograph not only the Brooklyn community, but Muslim communities in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Virginia. He hopes the portrait he has created of the American Muslim communities will inspire his audience to learn more about the diverse Muslim cultures represented in the U.S. and open a dialogue examining common misconceptions.

The project has been shown at St. John’s University, Manhattan Campus, New York, N.Y.; Schuster Art Gallery, Gannon University, Erie, Pa.; Schuster Art Gallery, Gannon University, Erie, Pa.; Annex Gallery, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Indiana, Pa.; Sidney Larson Gallery, Columbia College, Columbia, Mo.; and will move on to the John B. Davis Gallery, Idaho State University, Pocatello, Idaho after its exhibition at Delta State.

In the spirit of Gerhardt’s project, the Delta State Department of Art and the university’s Quality Enhancement Program have partnered to present a series of events that will provide a forum for dialogue. The series begins with a public presentation by Dr. Ahm Reza, assistant professor in biological and physical sciences at Delta State, on the experiences of a Muslim immigrant in America on Nov. 12. On Nov. 19, Emad Al-Turk and Okolo Rashid, founders of the International Museum of Muslim Cultures in Jackson, will speak about the history and mission of the institution they founded. On Dec. 3, a public screening of the film “Arranged,” which centers on the unlikely friendship between an Orthodox Jewish and Muslim teacher in New York. All presentations will be held at the Fielding Wright Art Center at 5 p.m. and are free and open to the public.

The Fielding Wright Art Center is open Mondays-Thursdays 8 a.m.-5 p.m., and Fridays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The gallery is closed weekends, holidays and during semester breaks.

For more information on the department of art, visit or contact 662-846-4720. For updates and announcements of upcoming events, follow Delta State Art Department on Facebook, or join the email list.

DMI students present on Russia trip

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DMI students and faculty gave a presentation Wednesday on their exchange trip to Perm State University in Russia this past summer. The event included music, photos, videos and stories about the group’s Russian experience. Learn more about Delta State’s plan to improve cultural competency at



DMI students to present on Russia exchange

By | Academics, College of Arts and Sciences, Delta Music Institute, International | No Comments

Join the Delta Music Institute and Quality Enhancement Plan for a public event Wednesday night with a discussion about the DMI’s groundbreaking international exchange in Russia last May and June.

The event, “You Can Get There From Here,” is free and open to the public Oct. 28 at 6:30 p.m. in DMI Studio A on the campus of Delta State.

DMI students, and participating faculty and staff, will share stories, music and photography from their exchange trip to Perm State University and Moscow.

The trip, “Rivers of Music — Rivers of Culture” utilized music as a universal language to explore the cultures, histories and heritages of the Mississippi Delta and Perm Krai regions, both situated along historic rivers.

The program was backed by the U.S. Department of State and allowed students and faculty from Perm State to visit Delta State in 2014.

“Most of our students are from small towns in a largely rural state,” said Tricia Walker, DMI director. “Traveling to another country and interacting with the culture there offered a unique way for our students to broaden their perspective on the world outside of Delta State and Mississippi.”

Walker added that the event would shed light on international exchange opportunities available at Delta State.

“I hope our students will come to the presentation to see what is possible for them through international travel opportunities,” she said. “They can ‘get there from here.’ In addition, the students and community will be treated to some music created by Delta State and Perm State students, as well as some stunning photography of the Perm Krai region by university photographer Rory Doyle.”

Learn more about the group’s trip to Russia at

Dr. A.H.M. Ali Reza was recently elected to the executive board of the Mississippi Chapter of the Wildlife Society.

Reza joins statewide wildlife board

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Dr. A.H.M. Ali Reza, assistant professor of biology at Delta State, was recently elected as an executive board member of the Mississippi Chapter of the Wildlife Society.

Chartered in 1973, the MCWS is comprised of wildlife professionals and students. The organization’s goal is to promote excellence in wildlife stewardship through science and education. Hunters, private corporations, landowners and wildlife enthusiasts are among the many who support the wildlife conservation efforts across the state.

The election happened during the society’s annual conference in Jackson, Miss. on Sept. 24-25. As an elected board member, Reza will serve on the board for the 2015-16 session.

Reza said he was honored to be elected and will continue to boost wildlife education at Delta State.

“Our state and federal agencies, universities, and wildlife biologists are all determined to keep Mississippi beautiful and our wildlife bountiful,” he said. “Having our students involved in such a professional group helps them become better prepared and motived to be a dedicated steward of wildlife.”

The MCWS has over 100 professional members, most of whom are employed through state, federal or non-government agencies, as well as academic institutions. In addition to the professional members, the organization has several active student chapters.

Reza coordinates the Wildlife Management program at Delta State under the realm of environmental sciences.

A native of Bangladesh, Reza came to Delta State with a distinguished résumé. For his master’s degree he studied Bengal tigers in his homeland, where the tigers are commonly known as ‘man-eaters.’ He also coordinated the Bengal tiger conservation project working with the International Union for Conservation of Nature and wrote a book on tiger ecology.

Reza and his wife, Selina, moved to the United States so he could obtain his doctorate at Texas Tech University, where he graduated in 2010 with a degree in wildlife science. He received his postdoctoral training with USGS Texas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research unit working on a climate change project.

Additionally, he has extensive experience in leading study abroad programs with wildlife research projects in multiple counties abroad.

For more information about Wildlife Management at Delta State, contact Reza at 662-846-4242 or

Members of the 2015-16 Fighting Okra Records: (front, left to right) Gregory Braggs, Keith Johnson, Tyler Young, Kelsey Collins, Lindsey Anna Pardue, Mic Hargrove, Chace Holland and Jessica Wishard. Back row: (l to r) Reed Smith, Brennan Barham, Austin Rausa, Will Marshall, Dalton Shipley, Justin Boatman, Jacob Lifsey, Starlin Browning and Lane Fitzgerald. Missing from the picture is Chelsea Young.

Fighting Okra Records back for another round

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Fighting Okra Records, a student-run record label at Delta State University, will continue its operations during the 2015-16 academic year with a new staff of entertainment industry studies students.

The label is housed in the DMI Entertainment Industry Program and is the combined outcome of students enrolled in the Record Label Practicum course at the DMI. Building on the success of last year’s Fighting Okra release with artist Justin Boatman, this year’s staff is looking forward to an exciting new year.

Students staffing the label are assigned responsibilities within departments, using a real world record company model. These departments include the areas of business and finance, sales and marketing, artist and repertoire, and art and production.

“One of the main challenges for students in this type of practicum course is dealing with all the unexpected changes that happen in a project like this over the course of a year,” said director Tricia Walker. “Learning to manage those changes will be beneficial in the real world.”

This year, FOR is launching a new campaign in hopes of building a larger group of supporters. The label is setting up a competition that will showcase the musical ability of students around campus. Unlike previous years, they will be allowing students from the entire campus to audition to be the next spotlight artist for the 2015-16 school year.

Students who are interested will be required to submit a video link of two of their performances. Upon submission, selected students will move on to the second round via notification by the label. In the second round, students will be required to perform in front of the members of the label, after which the label will hand select the final contenders. The third and final round will give the label a chance to interview each contestant before making the final selection.

The mission of FOR is to provide a practical, real world music industry experience to the students and to provide a variety of independent artists with professional quality music industry services in an effort to expose their name in recordings to the broadest possible audience.

The Delta Music Institute is an independent center of study under the College of Arts & Sciences at Delta State University. The focus of the DMI is to provide students with a broad and thorough education in the technological, creative and business areas of the music and entertainment industry. For more information, contact the DMI at 662-846-4579 or