Celebrating 30 Years of South Africa’s Democracy: Artists’ Reflections on the 1994 Bill of Rights

As the world commemorates the passing of three decades since the historic first democratic elections in South Africa, the Michigan State University (MSU) Museum is honored to announce an exhibition titled “The 30th Anniversary of South Africa Democracy: Artists’ Reflections on South Africa’s 1994 Bill of Rights.” This exhibition will be on view at the Main MSU Library March 20 – August 31, 2024. Graphic with a black background and three black and white prints at the bottom. A bright green line creates a text box for white text that reads "The 30th Anniversary of South Africa Democracy: Artists' Reflections on South Africa's 1994 Bill of Rights".

The exhibition features 27 prints depicting the Bill of Rights, created by South African artists. These prints, which are part of the MSU Museum’s cultural collections, serve as poignant reminders of South Africa’s remarkable journey towards freedom and justice.

Kurt Dewhurst, MSU Museum curator of folklife and cultural heritage, expressed his enthusiasm, stating, “The MSU Museum is honored to collaborate across campus to bring this thoughtful exhibition to our community. We hope these artworks inspires conversations about the ongoing pursuit of justice and equality in pursuit of a better world for all.”

Commissioned by the Durban-based Artists for Human Rights group, 27 artists from across South Africa contributed their unique interpretations, with each print representing one of the 27 clauses of the new Bill of Rights. These prints form a remarkable artistic record of the globally praised South African Bill of Rights.

Due to the renowned African Studies Program at Michigan State University, both the MSU Museum and MSU Libraries hold extensive collection of African and African diasporic materials. Collections are used in both units as catalysts in teaching, learning, and research creating a vital collaboratory for student and faculty success. In addition, the MSU Museum has collaborated on the development of many exhibitions that encourage dialogue about human rights including the recently updated exhibition “Dear Mr. Mandela, Dear Mrs. Parks: Children’s Letters, Global Lessons” which aims to encourage youth to address current environmental and human rights issues.

Erik Ponder, MSU Libraries African and US ethnic studies librarian, remarked, “The MSU Libraries is proud to be a part of this collaborative effort, amplifying voices that advocate for justice and equality. Together, let us continue to strive for a world where every individual’s rights are respected.”

This exhibition is made possible through the partnership of the MSU Libraries, MSU Museum, MSU African Studies Center, and MSU Outreach & Engagement. Join us in commemorating the 30th anniversary of South Africa’s democracy and celebrating the enduring legacy of the South African Bill of Rights. Together, let us reflect on the past, envision the future, and reaffirm our commitment to the principles of equality, dignity, and freedom for all.

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