Posted on Sep 27, 2007

Among Union’s diverse study abroad programs is one that’s gaining in popularity, the winter mini-term at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. This year, 20 students will study public history at the university, where they will be hosted by the Centre for Open Learning.

In preparation for their Nov. 24-Dec. 15 trip, John Skotnes, one of South Africa’s leading goldsmiths, a noted sculptor and an active participant in the struggle that ended apartheid in 1994, will visit campus next week for a series of lectures and discussions.

John Skotnes, South African goldsmith

On Monday, Oct. 1, at 7 p.m., Skotnes will visit Breazzano House as the guest speaker for the Entrepreneurship Club of the Economics Department. He will discuss “The New Entrepreneurs: Designing and Marketing Precious Metals and Jewelry in South Africa Today,” including his experience in creating his own company.

“In the years since apartheid’s end, South Africa has entered an intense debate and program to empower the majority black population and to draw them into economic decisions,” said Teresa Meade, the Florence B. Sherwood Professor of History and Culture and History Department chair who traveled with students on the first Cape Town mini-term last year.

"Skotnes has helped forge positive relations between manufacturers and educational institutions with the goal of training newly enfranchised blacks in jewelry design,” she noted. 

Skotnes will meet with art and history students in two classes.

On Tuesday, Oct. 2, he will speak in Sandy Wimer’s Design Fundamentals class, 9:15 a.m.-12:20 p.m., in Visual Arts Room 210. The topic is: “Design and Aesthetics: Balancing and Integrating Gold, Jewelry and Artistic Design in the New South Africa.”

On Thursday, Oct. 4, Skotnes will address The Aesthetic Legacy of Indigenous Art in Post-Colonial Africa” in Brian Peterson’s class, Africa to 1800. The class meets 10:55 a.m.-12:40 p.m. in Social Sciences Room 017.

Skotnes’ campus visit will culminate with the lecture, “Overcoming the Legacy of Apartheid: Public History and Museums in South Africa Since 1994,” Thursday, Oct. 4, 7-9 p.m. in Humanities Room 019. The lecture, sponsored by the Africana Studies Program, History, Anthropology and Visual Arts Departments, UNITAS and the Entrepreneurship Club, is open to the campus community and guests.

Andrew Morris, assistant professor of History who is accompanying students to Cape Town this year, will provide the introduction.

Skotnes has been a part of the struggle against apartheid and for a new democratic South Africa, intervening at the point where politics and art meet. Involved in the founding of two museums in Cape Town, he was among a group of artists who prepared a special exhibit at the Stone Quarry on Robben Island to commemorate the historic occasion when Nelson Mandela and other former political prisoners returned to the site of their imprisonment for the first time after liberation.