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A Portrait of a Young Artist Series: The contemporary value of the Visual Arts

Posted on December 13, 2013.

This week’s edition of the A Portrait of a Young Artist Series features the University of Stellenbosch Gradex Student exhibition.

Gradex '13: The contemporary value of the Visual Arts
University of Stellenbosch Visual Arts Students Final Exhibition 2013 Review
by Marijke Tymbios.

Izanne de Waal, Exploring the Void, Installation: Wood, thread, wire, nylon & lightbulb (2000 x 2300mm).

The Visual Arts Department at the University of Stellenbosch showcased their annual graduate exhibition opening on Friday the 30th of November. The entire event was funded, organized and executed by the graduate class of 2013. The team of Jewelry Design, Visual Communication Design and Fine Arts students transformed the once cluttered studios into elegant and professional viewing spaces. The quad at the centre of the building was a hub of social interaction where wine, cider and hors d’œuvre’s were served to fuel the migrant adventurers into the labyrinth of creative expression.

The night was inaugurated by a local Reggae band, The Rivertones. Their music together with the Mediterranean climate cultivated the ambience of the evening. The speeches were opened by Fine Arts graduate student Annchen Bronkowski who managed the curatorial team for the Gradex’13 event. Her words were succeeded by esteemed South African curator Hayden Proud who presented the graduating class with an encouraging talk on the contemporary value of the visual arts in the local and international arenas. Finally, the awards ceremony was presented by the head of the Stellenbosch University Visual Arts Department, Dr. Elizabeth Gunter. She awarded the top students in each division with the newly established Keith Dietrich’s prize, which entails the opportunity to participate in a collaborative exhibition at the U.S. Gallery in 2014. Needless to say, the stage was teeming with ecstatic achievers. However, it must be said that the Visual Arts Department is not lacking in talent, whether students received distinctions or not.

Each student was given the opportunity to arrange their own creative space whereby giving a personal touch to each nook and cranny in the building. Expression was given through painting, printing, mixed-media work, elaborate sculptures, book making, collaborations and exquisite metal work. Some students even went as far as to alter the size of their exhibition space to suit their conceptual and spatial preferences. The formal atmosphere of such an event was made pleasantly relaxed and informal by the bustle of excited students and proud parents. The atmosphere in the quad escalated to full party mode as the Capetonian DJs, BOYZ2MEN blasted dance music to fuel the festivities on. The night ended with a stream of jubilant students bursting from the department with the joy of success coursing through their systems.

Marijke Tymbios currently completing an Honours Degree in Visual Studies (art theory/history/philosophy) at the University of Stellenbosch.


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