PE artist to study animation in US

[caption id="attachment_35831" align="alignright" width="250"] WORLD ICON: Port Elizabeth artist Joshua Behrens has recently completed a can portrait of Mahatma Gandhi[/caption]

A PORT Elizabeth teenager who aspires to be like Spanish surrealist artist Salvador Dali has been awarded a bursary to attend a top animation school in the US next year.

Joshua Behrens, 19, of Lovemore Park, has had his heart set on becoming an animator for many years and he believes his mother's influence has helped him achieve that dream.

He leaves for The Digital Animation & Visual Effects (Dave) School in Orlando, Florida, in December.

"My mom is the most influential person in my life. She has always been able to promote and sell me as an artist and has helped get me to where I want to be."

Behrens's creativity was discovered in 2011 when he won Collect-a-Can's annual Can Craze Competition with his True Greatness, an artwork of former president Nelson Mandela made of recycled cans.

He said he was interested in animation because "it is so creative, it's not just one work of art. It's like a whole gallery in one. There is a wonderful combination of music, sculptures, video ... it's a multidimensional industry."

Behrens said he most aspired to be like Dali, "not in his work, but in the way in which he lived his life".

The former Hill College pupil describes his current project as epic. "It's a large- scale rhino piece that will incorporate the number of rhinos that have been killed due to poaching in the last 10 years," he said.

Behrens's mother, Genevieve Black, said his talent and passion shone through from a young age. He used Lego and stole his mother's washing pegs – which he took apart and sanded – to design different sculptures and create ships and other figures.

Dave director of admissions Andrea Clemens said they were excited to welcome Behrens to the school.

"It was clear in our very first communication just how talented, driven, and inspiring this young man is. Josh is exactly the type of student that The Dave School hopes to find," Clemens said. - Chanice Koopman