Simphiwe Mbunyuza, a ceramic artist from Wallacedene in Kraaifontein, has been awarded a full scholarship to complete his Master’s degree in Fine Art at the University of Oklahoma in America.
After being rejected from various artist residencies abroad, Mr Mbunyuza finally got some good news and will be starting his three-year programme in August.
He sent his application and portfolio to the University of Oklahoma in January and did not expect a response from them.
However, on March 30, Mr Mbunyuza was stunned to find an email saying that he was not only accepted but was also granted full funding through the Teresa L Carrig Endowed Scholarship and the Ben Memorial Scholarship as his works were recognised by the director of the university, Dr Bette Talvacchia.
Before heading off to America , Mr Mbunyuza will be exhibiting his work at the Yun Zhu Creative Art Centre in Shanxi Province, China, on July 1.
He said he is looking forward to this opportunity as his art creations are strictly African and traditional and he is honoured to be presenting this to a whole different culture abroad.
“This opportunity means the world to me. Going to exhibit my work in China is a good opportunity because they are one of the advanced countries in terms of arts and skills,” he said.
Mr Mbunyuza graduated in 2014 from Walter Sisulu University, where he obtained a BTech degree in Fine Arts.
He then moved to Cape Town to pursue his career as he felt his art was less appreciated in his home town of Butterworth in the Eastern Cape (“Wallacedene ceramicist’s dream”, Northern News, October 19 2016).
Mr Mbunyuza’s work has been acknowledged at exhibitions locally and internationally.
In 2016 he exhibited at the Art in the Yard Gallery, in Franschhoek, and Donald Greig Bronze Foundry and Gallery, at the V&A Waterfront.
In 2017 he flew to France where he was the only South African in the Artists in Residence Vallauris programme.
Mr Mbunyuza said he had no intention of staying in America and said once he returns home after obtaining his Master’s degree he “hopes to establish a workshop in the Eastern Cape and create jobs to boost the local economy.”