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Gallery exhibit brings South African history to life

MVNU is hosting Between the Shadow and the Light: An Exhibition out of South Africa at Schnormeier Gallery located in the Buchwald Center in downtown Mount Vernon.

The exhibit opened in November. However, there are a few days left for students, faculty and community members to view the pieces. The exhibit will close on Friday.

The exhibition showcases the project orchestrated by the Nagel Institute of Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The Nagel Institute works to link Christian scholars worldwide.

In June of 2013, a team of 10 North American and 10 African artists came together for a two-week ‘R5’ Seminar and studio in South Africa. Assistant Professor of Graphic Design Margaret Allotey-Pappoe was one of the artists involved in the project.

The five R’s of the project stand for remembrance, resistance, reconciliation, representation and re-visioning. Two more R’s were later added to the original five: restoration and renewal.

The goal of the intensive program was to engage artists with South Africa – its history, culture, and contemporary reality – and with each other, said Curator and Project Director Rachel Hostetter Smith.

Gallery Administrator Peter Stevens helped to set up the exhibit in the Buchwald Center and quickly discovered the inspiring story within the pieces.

“The story is much bigger than any one person can tell,” said Stevens. “It’s a story being told by 20 different people about a place they were all converging on and learning about in South Africa and that some of them weren’t familiar with prior to that trip.”

Sophomore Becca Jamison had the opportunity to visit the exhibit and enjoyed the different mediums displayed in the Gallery.

“The exhibit had everything from installation to self-portrait to sculpture to film. In my hour absorbing the pieces I felt that I only scratched the surface of what I was seeing and feeling,” Jamison said.

Freshmen art majors Elise Murray and Shey McVaney value the impact art has on their everyday life and said they are thankful for all of the exhibits displayed in the gallery.

“Art is always important, no matter what it’s about,” said Murray. “You can do a lot of self-reflection, ‘I wonder why this one appeals to me more?’ And, wonder about them, ‘Why did the artist choose to do this?’”

McVaney described art as an interactive experience that exposes you to more than your everyday life.

“Everyone has their own taste,” McVaney said. “And the lovely thing about this gallery is you can walk around and it’s not just paintings, it’s sculpting and it’s video. It’s everybody’s own unique thing that they have.”

Jamison said the exhibit is a journey for artists and viewers that shouldn’t be passed up.

“The pieces heavily conveyed the feeling of hurting and healing that forgiveness has brought into my own life,” said Jamison. “And each piece, in its carefully assigned place among the other, told me a story of a unity and oneness.”

The exhibit can still be viewed through Friday at the Buchwald Center located on 221 S. Main St. The gallery is open from noon to 4:30 p.m.

Visit for a list of upcoming gallery exhibitions.

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