Campus News

A Homecoming in South Africa

Story posted October 23, 2001

The artists represented here have opened up their hearts, homes and studios to five inquisitive students and their professor. Friendships have been made, lives have been altered, and when we return to our own homes, Homecoming and all that it has entailed will be a part of us.

-From a statement on the exhibit written by the CBB students and their professor, Julie McGee.

Homecoming comprises sculpture, paintings and prints by seven black South African artists. The exhibit will run from October 20 through November 1 at the Guga S Thebe community center in Langa. All of the artists have had work exhibited in shows, but they are not known the way many white artists are, and their work is rarely seen in the communities that inspire them.

For a personal view of the exhibition, see the Cape Town Diary entry by Samantha Dahan, or read the keynote address at the exhibit opening.

Artists who grew up in the Townships of South Africa are struggling to find an audience (and buyers) for their work. Many of the artists sell their work as soon as they complete it in order to be able to afford materials for the next project. Many of the artists have had to go against family objections to follow their dreams of being artists.

Homecoming celebrates their work and allows them to exhibit it in their community. The exhibit was curated by Vuyile Cameron Voyiya, who was born in Langa, and organized by Velile Soha, a resident of Langa, with the help of Bowdoin, Colby and Bates students studying in Cape Town. Students interviewed the artists and wrote the exhibition catalog. This allowed them to learn about the work and lives of the artists and to participate in a real art exhibition. This is the first exhibit that Voyiya has curated, though he works in the education department of the South African National Gallery

The artists:

Vuyile Cameron Voyiya: 40 years old. Curated the exhibit. Music figures prominently in his work. He works at the National gallery, which does not leave much time for him to pursue his own work, but he needs his job to survive, since South Africa has a fickle art market, and because he often wishes to keep his work rather than sell it. All of his works in the exhibition are linocut prints created in the past year.

Velile Soha: 44 years old. Mostly works in printmaking. His work has been exhibited in Europe and Argentina. First became interested in art as a child. He earns money by teaching classes, creating art on commission and printing others work on his printing press.

Sophie Peters: 33 years old. From Johannesburg. One of the few practicing, black female artists in the Cape Town area. She began her career sculpting because she had no money to buy materials, and a friend gave her some clay. She is now primarily a painter and muralist. She has created murals in England and Scotland.

Alfred Budaza: 30 years old. Born in Guguletu, Cape Town. Working with Clay was his preferred medium while in school, but he has no kiln, so is unable to produce pottery now. He now works in painting, linocut and sculpture. He presses his linocut prints with a spoon, since he has no printing press. He works as a builder to support his family, but his first love is art. Many of the artists reject the term "township art" because it is a misunderstood and abused term. Alfred accepts the term, because he sees the township as his community.

Thamasanqa (Thami) Kiti: 33 years old. Grew up in a village in Eastern Cape Province. He was first introduced to art when he painted designs on the fašade of his family's home as a child. He primarily sculpts with wood and paints with oil. He works construction to support himself. All of his works included in the show are sculptures created in the past year.

Lundi Mduba: 33 years old. His paintings collages and sketches often deal with issues of identity and difference, also creates surrealist work. His work has been exhibited at the South African National Gallery.

Timothy Mafenuka: 34 years old. As a child, his grandfather introduced him to woodcarving. Now he primarily sculpts in wood. He sees sculpture as his way to send the message that people must love and look at one another.

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