Glenda Wildschut, one of the commissioners who served with Desmond Tutu on South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, will discuss the role of the arts in the work of reconciliation in a lecture on Tuesday, March 8, at 7 p.m. in Room 126 of the John R. Roach Center for the Liberal Arts on the St. Paul campus of the University of St. Thomas.
The lecture, free and open to the public, is sponsored by St. Thomas’ College of Arts and Sciences, Theology Department and the Office of Civic Engagement.
Wildschut is a South African human rights activist who was appointed to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 1995. She has since shared her expertise in peacebuilding and reconciliation in many countries, including Sierra Leone and Rwanda.
Wildschut’s work dates back to the early 1980s when she began working with political prisoners, their families, exiles and orphaned returnee children in South Africa and Namibia. Since then she has dedicated herself to human rights activism, torture rehabilitation, and healing and reconciliation.
Wildschut is a registered nurse, midwife and psychiatric nurse. Early in her activism career, she collaborated with a group of health workers to establish a trauma center for survivors of violence and torture – the first center of its kind in South Africa. She is the first South African to be awarded the Health and Human Rights Award by the International Institute for Nursing Ethics. Today, she serves as director of the University of Cape Town’s Transformation Services Office.
Her lecture at St. Thomas is presented in connection with a two-week visual arts seminar in in Johannesburg and Cape Town that was co-sponsored by the Calvin College-based Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity, the Lilly Fellows Program for the Humanities and the Arts, and the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. The 2013 seminar brought together 20 scholar-artists from North America and Africa to study five issues commonly treated by contemporary South African artists: remembrance, resistance, reconciliation, representation and re-visioning.
The scholars and artists who attended the seminar were invited to submit works of art. Those works are now part of a traveling exhibit, “Between the Shadow and the Light: An Exhibition Out of South Africa,” that is on display at Bethel University’s Olson Gallery through March 20.
One of the pieces of art on display at Bethel was created by Dr. Kimberly Vrudny, a St. Thomas theology faculty member who participated in the Johannesburg and Cape Town seminar program. Her work, “Beauty’s Vineyard,” is comprised of five photographs printed on metal.
Two other works from the exhibition, by South African artist Phumlani Mtabe, are on display on the St. Thomas campus through March 20. Those works can be seen just outside The Gallery, located on the second floor of the Anderson Student Center.
More information is available on the theology website.