Transformational Practices in Community Learning: A South African Case Study

By Kim Berman and Pamela Allara.

Published by The Learner Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper co-authored by an artist/activist and a feminist art historian, will present a case study of a multi-disciplinary approach to implement an HIV/AIDS action intervention in targeted communities. The objectives of the training are to assist Phumani Paper projects to become sustainable and to enable participants to reduce the loss and trauma caused by HIV/AIDS affecting their community enterprises. Phumani Paper was set up initially as a government funded poverty alleviation program in seven provinces across South Africa, and presently 17 sites are challenged with survival as viable craft enterprises. Some of those sites have lost up to half their membership as a result the impact of HIV/AIDS. This paper will draw on fifteen years of activism and experience in South Africa. This most recent project is focussed on the use of the visual arts and "PhotoVoice" narratives as a strategy to reduce the impact of HIV/AIDS in impoverished community projects. We will examine the process and results of a pilot project funded by the Ford Foundation, and implemented by a multi-disciplinary, multi-cultural team that was conducted in three Phumani Paper craft project sites in July 2006. Part of the success of the pilot can be attributed to the application of Participatory Action Research techniques, which encourage project participants to be co-developers of new knowledge about themselves that can serve to guide social transformation. We will suggest ways that visual and narrative materials when applied as a training intervention can systematically increase the achievement of social change. We argue that social transformation has the most potential when it integrates existing cultural reference points with multi-disciplinary approaches and practices.

Keywords: Multi Disciplinary, Creative Practice, Engaged Learning, HIV/AIDS Intervention

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 14, Issue 8, pp.113-124. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 2.031MB).

Kim Berman

Senior Lecturer, Department of Fine Art, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa

Kim Berman is the Director of Artist Proof Studio, a community based Printmaking Centre in Newtown, and a Senior Lecturer in Fine Art at the University of Johannesburg. She received her B.F.A. from the University of the Witwatersrand in 1981 and her M.F.A. from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, in 1989. She initiated the Paper Prayers campaign-HIV/AIDS awareness through the visual arts in 1996, which currently operates out of APS as a successful income generating activity and learning program to support HIV positive women. In 1998, KB received government funding to implement a national poverty alleviation programme, Phumani Paper which supports 17 small enterprises in hand made paper and crafts in 7 provinces. She has lectured and exhibited widely in South Africa and internationally. She is currently registered at Wits University for a PhD on the role of the visual arts in social change in South Africa

Pamela Allara

Professor Contemporary Art History, Brandeis University, Medford, Massachusetts, USA

Pamela Allara is Associate Professor emerita of Brandeis University. An art historian, she teaches courses in the history of women’s art, contemporary art, film, photography and visual culture. The author of a monograph on the American painter Alice Neel, (Pictures of People: Alice Neel’s American Portrait Gallery, [1998/2000]), her recent research has been on activist art in South Africa. In 2003, she co-curated the exhibition, Co-existence: Contemporary Cultural Production in South Africa for the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis and the South African National Gallery in Cape Town. During the 2005-6 academic year, she co-curated two exhibitions: Geobodies: A Question of Boundaries for the Women’s Studies Research Center at Brandeis University, and Cross-Current In Recent Video Installation: Water as Metaphor for Identity for the Tufts University Art Gallery.


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