With a swipe of a paintbrush and moulding of clay, 12 BTech students from WSU’s fine art department are telling emotive personal tales that invoke a cocktail of feelings and sentiments amongst art enthusiasts.


A considerable crowd with an eye for the arts came out in droves on Tuesday 6 November to bear witness to the official opening night of WSU’s annual Buffalo City Campus BTech Fine Art exhibition housed at the Ann Bryant Art Gallery in East London.


Fine art department senior lecturer Dr John Steele, under whose tutelage the BTech group has flourished, said the artworks on public display were a culmination of a year-long creation of a body of work consisting of multiple pieces.



“Along with the actual hands-on practical project, the students over the past year were also expected to accompany their works with a 10 000-word research study that speaks directly to the artist’s theme. This is critical as it broadens the perspective of the artist and has the potential to summon new ideas from the artist,” said Dr Steele.




A multitude of skills were on show at the exhibition as the dozen students depicted their artworks using various disciplines, including drawing; ceramic sculpting; print-making; as well as painting.


Siyathemba Siyobi, the solitary ceramic sculptor amongst the group, premised his work introspectively and retrospectively on his personal trials and triumphs as a child growing up in an informal settlement in Mdantsane.


Under the theme “The young beautiful dust: an artist’s explorations on creative acumen of children growing up in the ghetto”, Siyobi moulds a ceramic account of life in the ghetto.




“My artwork presents children’s activities in ghetto settlements, focussed on the journey that ghetto children pass through as they grow up – making something out of nothing. This study focuses on how children’s creative aspects have developed based on a lack of toys as a child of the ghetto and of the older generation,” he said.




Athenkosi Kwinana, whose noble effort earned her “Best Art Theory” for research, details her love affair with art and how she used it as an escapism from the bullying she used to suffer as a child due to her albinism.


“I used to get teased and bullied in my younger days because I was aesthetically different from everybody else. As a withdrawal mechanism, I would go sit in a corner by myself, take out my crayons and draw in order to distract myself,” said Kwinana.


Her work taps into her deepest and most fragile and vulnerable space – her lifelong jostle in trying to manoeuvre in a world steeped in the heights of prejudice and bigotry toward notions that lie outside societal “norms”.


Through her art, borne out under the theme “Finding Albus: Reframing the Representation of People Living with Albinism within the Eastern Cape’s Contemporary Society”, Kwinana aims to bring awareness to the social challenges faced by people living with albinism.


“Finding Albus is an autobiographical series that focuses on reporting the conditions of people living with albinism in South Africa at large. My research report seeks to interrogate the stereotypical cultural beliefs associated with albinism. “


“The auto-ethnographic study documents interpretations of these stereotypes with the objective to explore the impact that negative misrepresentations of people living with albinism have on the individual, families and relations to other people within the broader society,” she said.


The interpretation of beauty is another contentious subject that has been placed under analysis in the exhibition.




Printmaker Wonga Maxiniva, under whose theme titled “Shifting sands of beauty” the concept of beauty is thoroughly scritinized, said his investigation looked at some societal philosophies about beauty and focussed acutely on what informs the ideas we have about the concept.


“The main concern in this research is on how concepts of beauty affect our inherited, adopted or prescribed views of ourselves, laying bare our arrogantly ignorant preoccupations, obsessions, as well as tainted, distorted and corrupted perspectives of our physical or spiritual worlds,” said Maxiniva.


Other themes carried in the exhibition include, amongst others, social and economic issues such as depression, “ulwaluko”, unemployment, inequality and the human psyche.


The exhibition runs from 7 – 14 November. Entry is free.


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