Walter Sisulu University (WSU) alumnus and internationally acclaimed ceramic artist Simphiwe Mbunyuza, 29, has been granted a full scholarship to complete his master’s degree in fine arts at the University of Oklahoma in the USA.
Along with the fully- funded scholarship Mbunyuza, who hails from Butterworth, has also been given a position as an assistant teacher at the university.
“In August last year, I met Professor Stuart Asprey, who happened to be a lecturer in France while we were attending the same ceramic residency programme in a village called Vallarious,” said Mbunyuza said.
“I told him I would like to study abroad and he suggested I apply but did not promise anything.
“I applied in January this year and I fortunately got accepted.”
Mbunyuza said his source of inspiration for most of his art works stemmed from African culture.
“The source of inspiration is not always consistent.
“Some pieces are a product of ideas that come through African cultural music, nature, reading and random sketching.
“But somehow I try by all means to present these ideas in a more cultural way in order to preserve and maintain our cultural ideologies and elements that makes us unique and genuine,” Mbunyuza said.
Last year, he was among a group of artists to participate in the Artists in Residence programme which afforded him an opportunity to exhibit his work in China at the Yun Zhu Creative Art Centre.
Despite teaching and studying at the University of Oklahoma, Mbunyuza plans to return to home soil to establish a ceramic manufacturing factory, as well as to open his own gallery space.
“I miss the South African nature, my son and my family,” Mbunyuza said.
Fine art lecturer John Steele praised Mbunyuza for his dedication to his craft.
“I taught him for about four years.
“I could tell from the beginning that he was very deep-thinking and very hard-working.
“It’s very exciting and it’s a dream come true when we see one of our students making their own mark,” he said.