I cant believe that I’ve made it to this point already. It feels like just last week we were just arriving in Cape Town, unsure of what the city had in store for us. Now the journey has become clear, being that its reaching the end, and we’re going out with a bang. We got tattoos! Group tattoos! This experience has effected all 4 of us immensely, so we collaboratively decided to document this pivotal moment in our lives.
This was also our last week of work. Saying goodbye to our supervisors and coworkers was hard, but at I’m grateful to have met Janine, Bradley, Stacy, Melanie, Wandile and everyone else that I crossed paths with along the way. Their presences’ made my South African experience unreal. I’m going to miss South Africa but I have a feeling that I’ll be back fairly soon, so my feels haven’t set in yet.
The highlight of week 3 in Capetown for me was Mandela Day, a national holiday in South Africa. On this holiday we took the moble museum bus out to Wellington, a township about 30 minutes away from Capetown. There, our supervisors performed their usual revelation of taxidermy animals and facts about the diffrent aspects of museums. However, afterwards Isadora, Kiana, Liz and I were specifically granted the opportunity to teach the children of the orphanage a printmaking technique that we were taught by our own instructors; Nate and Marit. We wanted the children to express what freedom meant to them through printmaking. Although some children stuck to the theme more than others, I was just excited to see them all enthused take on the styrofoam printing technique that I was also new to.
Our second week in Cape Town was full of adventure. We rode along on our first mobile museum trip, which was exciting. The mobile museum gives children who may not have access to Iziko museums, the opportunity to interact with the museum’s content. I loved watching the children’s reactions to the different taxidermy animals that we revealed to them. Their amazement and excitement with every object that was brought out, makes me look forward to our upcoming mobile museum trips.
We also visited parliament with another group of Iziko interns and learned more about how the government of South Africa functions. That same day, after the tour, we visited a fabric shop with Janine, one of our supervisors. Janine also took us to visit The Castle, another Iziko Museum site.
Outside of work we ate lots of pizza, chocolate croissants and coconut butter cookies. We also did a little bit of shopping at the Cape Walk mall, to prepare for Liz’s upcoming birthday.
The highlight of this week for me personally was the great amount of sewing that was required of my team (Isadora, Lizz and Kiana) and I during the first few days of our internship. Although the tasks came all at once rather than one at a time, it was a great pass time and was actually therapeutic (despite the fact that we were working on a time schedule). I’m grateful that we were awarded the opportunity to work with our hands, creating objects for exhibitions, rather than doing office work.
I also enjoyed our trip to the West Coast Fossil Park. It was exciting to be able to walk through the work sites and view the behind the scenes work of archeologists.
Today was one of the best days of my life, thanks to Keletso (our tour guide for the day) for taking us on a food tour of Bellville. We started off at Keletso’s favorite coffee shop, Boston Coffee, where I grabbed a hot chocolate to sip while we discussed the upcoming plan for the tour. Before continuing the rest of our food tour, Keletso took us around town to see some of the most popular murals/street art in Bellville. Most of the murals eccoed the diversity that resides in capetown, and in a way brings the community together.
Next stop: more food! Our second food tasting destination was Holland Bakery (aka heaven). There we tasted some of their famous “amsterdammers”, and it was a magical experience I ended up buying 4 more before we left. We then walked down the street to Radia’s Takeaway where we enjoyed beef samosas and mini beef roties. By then I was stuffed, but we had one more stop left, Afya Cafe. In the cafe we were served butter coffee and popcorn, a light, interesting snack that concluded our food tasting tour for the day.
Later on that night we attended a supper club hosted by the famous south african artist/ apartheid activist Lionel Davis. At the end of the dinner we had a chance to speak with the artist and gift him one of our best hand printed notebooks. Our day was full of adventure, and the artist talk was a great way to wind down the day.
Today was our last day is Johannesburg, boy time has flew by. We didnt do much considering we have some long days of travel ahead. As a group we focused on hitting the spots that we hadn’t had a chance to check out thoroughly yet. Our first stop was Wits Art Museum (WAM), there we spoke with the head currator for the Lionel Davis exhibition about all of the installalations that were currenlty in the museum. This museum trip seemed to be a bit more informational from a currators stand point, rather than the artists that were displayed. The visit provided good insight for our upcoming internship in Iziko Museums.
Afterwards, we visited the Museum of African Design again with high hopes that it would be open this time, and it was! With their wide range of mediums it was easy to get lost in the beautiful maze of their collection. We also found a DOPE thrift store within the same vecinity of the museum, where Isadora, Kiana, Lizz and I all bought some pretty cool one of a kind pieces of clothing.
Then, we set out for lunch and decided to try out an Ethiopean restuarant. I have never tried Ethiopean food before so I was hesitant at first. However, in the end I was glad that I gave it a chance. It was like nothing that I have ever tasted before, and it was required that we eat our meals with our hands which was also fun. This experience made me more willing to try more new things during my time abroad.
Later on that night the Lizz, Kiana, Isadora and I met up with some of the artists that we met the first week of our trip at The David Krutz Art Studio (Chad and LB) and had an amazing night. It was a great way to spend our last night in Joannesburg.
Today was one of the more relaxed days that would prepare us for our upcoming days full of adventure. For starters we visited the Johannesbug Art Museum, and witnesed, first hand, the effects the current economic state of Johannesburg was taking on the Museum itself. However, the museum still was the home to many interesting installations and pieces of art work. We then went for a stroll through downtown Johannesburg and had brunch at Eat Your Heart Out cafe (which was amazing).
After brunch we headed back out in search of a couple locations we had planned to visit but, most of the locations we went to ended up being closed temporarily. So in the midst of looking for our new destination we ran into the Bambanani Brass Band again for the second time in a row. We were immediatly hypnotized and pulled in by their melodies, I could stand there and watch/listen to them perform all day.
Later on that night we went to go see a play by the name of Isithunzi, which was a reaction to the “Reitz Four Video” in which the mother of two young men was humiliated along with a few other African women and men. The play was very powerful, and although half of it was unexpectedly in Zulu, the amazing performance by the actors made it easy to understand. After the play Isadora, Kiana, Liz and I all went out to Liquid Blue, where we met the most amazing people and had some really deep, intellectual conversations. These types of interactions continue to help us understand the everyday lives of South Africans and reveal how similar their battles are to some of the ones we fight in America.
Isadora and I arrived a day after Marit, Nate, Kiana and Liz. While Kiana and Liz were sleeping in Marit and Nate greeted us at the airport and escorted us back to our new living space for the next two weeks, the Space Guest House.
After Isadora and I got settled in we headed grocery store (the first of many trips soon to come) to get the items that we either were missing or needed for the next couple days. Later on that evening we attended Stephen Hobbs’ gallery opening in Johannesburg. In the midst of mixing and mingling with the other artists and visitors in the gallery, I came upon 2 Americans from my hometown Kalamazoo, Michigan that had been living in Johannesburg for the past 3 months and were on their way home the following day. Upon speaking with them I also found out that they had met another person in Johannesburg that was also from Kalamazoo. It was such a grand coincidence and an interaction that immediately made me feel more at home and welcomed.
To end the day we headed to a delicious pizza place just around the corner from The Space Guest House. A Perfect way to end our first day!