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Visiting Artist Series features South African artist Kim Berman

Kim Berman demonstrates printing techniques to a group of students.
Kim Berman demonstrates printing techniques to a group of students.
Photo supplied

St. Catherine University welcomes South African artist Kim Berman as an artist-in-residence from March 16–20 as part of the Amy Marie Sears Memorial Visiting Artist Series. Berman will give a public lecture at 7 p.m., Thursday, March 20, in the Visual Arts Building Lecture Hall (#33 on the map).

Deeply committed to the social transformation of South Africa, Berman co-founded the Artist Proof Studio (APS) with the late Nhlanhla Xaba in 1991, in response to Nelson Mandela’s call “to participate in the building of a new, democratic society that would promote reconciliation, cultural diversity, equality, and above all, a culture that celebrates human rights.” APS is a community-based printmaking center located in Newtown, Johannesburg.

APS initiated the Paper Prayers campaign in 1997, which raises awareness and promotes advocacy through the visual arts. Paper Prayers, a Japanese custom of offering a painted strip of paper as a prayer for healing and well-being, has been adapted by APS in country-wide projects to address the HIV/AIDS pandemic in South Africa through printmaking workshops. Participants are able to share their stories and respond positively to the impact of HIV in their lives. Their action becomes part of the solution. 

The process can be extended to multiple themes, and encourages the use metaphor to convey a visual messages of hope. Simple printmaking techniques are introduced that use found and recycled materials, and participants are encouraged to share a short narrative about their paper prayer. Each participant can make three prints: one to leave behind for the campaign, one for a gift and one for themselves.

During her March 16–20 residency, classes will work with Berman to learn the tradition of paper prayers and students will produce prints of their own. 

“It’s an opportunity for students to work in a medium that we don't necessarily teach and to be exposed to new ways of working and thinking about art making,” says Todd Deutsch, associate professor and department chair of the Art and Art History Department.

Berman will also be meeting with graduating seniors to critique their work and talk about her experiences as a working artist.

About the artist

Kim Berman headshotKim Berman is an Associate Professor in Visual Art at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) and Executive Director of Artist Proof Studio. She has lectured and exhibited widely in South Africa and internationally.

In 2000, Berman received government funding through the University of Johannesburg to implement a national poverty alleviation program, Phumani Paper, supporting craft enterprises in handmade paper and crafts across South Africa. In partnership with Phumani Paper, she established a paper mill and research unit in archival paper making at the University of Johannesburg.

She completed her Ph.D. at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. Her thesis is entitled “Agency, imagination and resilience: Facilitating social change through the visual arts in South Africa.” 

About the Visiting Artist Series

Established in memory of Amy Marie Sears, a promising 1995 studio art major who passed away in 1997, the annual Amy Marie Sears Memorial Visiting Artist Series invites a distinguished artist to St. Catherine University for a one-week residency.

Feb. 5, 2014 by Sharon Rolenc

See also: Arts, Liberal Arts, Students