Siyazama: Traditional Arts, Education, and AIDS in South Africa overview photo

Siyazama: Traditional Arts, Education, and AIDS in South Africa

  • Duration:Temporary
  • Location:Campbell Gallery

(date) 8/17/2010—1/9/2011

Traditional arts have become the wellspring of inspiration for an innovative new approach to educating the public about the dangers of AIDS. One arts-based intervention, the Siyazama (Zulu for "we are trying") Project, uses traditional and contemporary artistic expression to document the realities of HIV/AIDS and to open lines of communication about the virus. Though based in South Africa, the project is a model for collaborations among artists, educators and health practitioners.

This exhibit showcases over 60 pieces created by participants in the Siyazama Project—fiber and wire baskets, dolls, necklaces and other beadwork—and explores the application of traditional knowledge and skills to contemporary issues, materials and experiences. In addition, the exhibition includes work produced as part of craft-based economic-development projects. Siyazama reveals how South African artists are using their work to educate others as well as to cope with the devastating effects of HIV/AIDS in their own lives and communities.

The exhibition is a collaborative project with Natal Technikon (formerly Durban Technikon) that grew out of the South African National Cultural Heritage Project, a bi-national project led, in part, by Michigan State University Museum and MATRIX: Center for Humane Arts, Letters, and Social Sciences Online.