Willamette professor to serve as Cultural Envoy in Namibia

With support from the U.S. Department of State, Willamette University's Center for Sustainable Communities, University of Namibia and Windhoek College of the Arts, professor Andries Fourie will serve as Cultural Envoy in Namibia this summer for the U.S. Department of State.

Fourie will teach Namibian art students and regional arts extension officers through two week-long workshops focusing on the use of recycled materials in sculpture. The extension officers will then teach throughout the country, passing on what they learn from Fourie.

"I feel very fortunate," Fourie said. "This is an opportunity to have a small influence on the development of a generation of Namibian artists. I also appreciate the fact that I'll learn as much from my students in Namibia as they'll learn from me."

Fourie often creates art from found objects. Though widely accepted in the U.S. as a popular medium, the Namibian African-art market, which is often aimed at visiting European and American tourists, still favors more traditional media. Fourie's workshops will allow Namibians without access to traditional media to express themselves using readily available resources.

This is not Fourie's first experience teaching workshops in Africa. Fourie is an Afrikaner, a white South African of Dutch descent, who has previously taught in his native country.

Combining sculpture, painting, printmaking and digital media, Fourie intentionally challenges viewers' expectations and creates tension between flatness and dimensionality. His art deals with issues of memory, identity and cultural hybridity in contemporary South African culture.

"The goal is to try to challenge preconceived notions," Fourie said. "Ideally, art is about opening new possibilities."