Exhibition not just art for art’s sake

FROM a stained glass depiction of the Xhosa initiation process into manhood to paintings made with recycled plastic bags to resin road-kill sculptures, NMMU’s Fine Art Graduate Exhibition promises an adventure in creativity.

The exhibition displays the work of third-year diploma students and fourth-year BTech degree students.

There is art for art’s sake and there is art with a message – no more clearly depicted than in diploma student Toni van Huyssteen’s slightly shocking resin and taxidermy sculptures.

“I’m looking at the effect the human race has on nature,” said Van Huyssteen, who has preserved an array of dead birds and mongooses found on roadsides.

“As we construct, we actually demolish [nature].”

The preserved animals are suspended in old tyres, concrete bricks and in urns.

BTech student Lungiswa Gqunta’s larger-than-life totem-like sculptures are a profile of the artist herself.

“Each work represents a certain characteristic.”

The stained glass exhibits by diploma students also take on a sculptural form, in contrast to traditional flat-pane stained glass.

George Galeba has depicted the challenges of going through the traditional Xhosa circumcision rites.

Port Elizabeth’s old public buildings have also been preserved in glass by third-year student Chrissinda van Rensburg.

“The buildings are shown in negative space. This is because they have so much history, but time passes and people change, and the history almost gets lost,” stained glass lecturer Anva Chiazzari said.

If you look closely at BTech student Karen Flood’s massive colourful landscapes, which appear to be paintings, you will see they are actually crocheted plastic bags, delivering a clear message on recycling.

Among the print-making and illustration diploma students, rhino poaching is vividly depicted in the work of Nishil Vaghmaria, while Putumani Mlungwana has brought to life characters from Xhosa folk tales.

” There is a lesson behind each story.”

David Jones, head of the School of Music, Art and Design’s studio arts department, said: “The students have once again exceeded our expectations in their creativity and their approach to resolving the problems of the 21st century.”

The exhibition runs at the North Campus Art and Design building until November 26.

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