Volunteers take over art venue
It is impressive to witness the creativity of the Tshwane University of Technology art students and their participation in the art world
The generally staid atmosphere at the Pretoria Art Museum is being disrupted by a group of its young educational assistants, who conduct guided tours and occasionally facilitate art-making workshops.
They are staging their own exhibition, dubbed Genesis ll’Xhibition. This is the second time the museum is hosting its volunteers. In 2003 the first group of volunteers proposed that they have an exhibition in return for giving their time to the museum. They titled it Genesis to signify the possibilities facing them at the onset of their careers.
The exhibition comprises paintings, drawings, photography and mixed media. It features work that provides excellent storytelling of the artists’ backgrounds.
All the museum volunteers in the exhibition are art students at the Tshwane University of Technology at various stages of their diplomas or degrees: Mbhoni Khosa, Lerato Lodi, Isaac Nyokong, Kutlwano Monyai, Lesedi Ledwaba, Tebogo Setsiba, Bruce Bowale and Asma Rahman.
One student uses pages of books as part of his paintings, drawing on words that inspired him when he was young. Another uses water gathering as a focus for his work.
Mmutle Kgokong, the museum’s officer for education and development, has cleverly combined another exhibition with the students’ work. Public Domain: Shifting Boundaries Between the Private and the Public is an exhibition by lecturers at the University of Pretoria. It runs until June 24.
The lecturers’ exhibition deals with shifting boundaries as a stimulus for debate, showcasing the artists’ interpretations of society.
Kgokong says Genesis ll’Xhibition is a daunting moment for the artists.
"This is their first show in a formal space such as a museum. Most of them would still have to grapple with finding their way to other exhibitions during their practice," he adds.
"This exhibition serves either as a validation that they are on the right path in working hard at their practice and it also serves to show them that it is possible to work on a new body of work for an upcoming exhibition."
He says further education and training colleges have become unpopular recently and art students are heading for universities. "So much for transformation. Popular thinking that emerged was that going to a college, if one of them survived by the early 2000s, did not carry any weight compared to attending a university.
"In some sense the practical experience that was once occupied by colleges was relegated to museums, the industries of hospitality and entertainment, engineering and finance at a substantial loss of tactile experience.
"This shaped the world as we have come to know it. And the Pretoria Art Museum could not help but be caught up by the sweep of these events."
It is impressive to witness the creativity of the Tshwane University of Technology art students and their participation in the art world. All of them are aware that this is not the easiest route to follow for a career, but some are doing extra courses which will allow them to combine their art with education. All of them are determined to keep practising.
• The Genesis ll’Xhibition is at Pretoria Art Museum until July 1.