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Exhibition illustrates the courage, creativity and resilience of Phumani’s women

The University of Johannesburg (UJ) is proud to announce an exhibition of photography by New York based photographer, Debbie Rasiel as well as the launch of a book that showcase 12 years of Phumani Paper, the flagship Community Engagement Programme of the University.
The official opening of the exhibition, entitled Creativity and Resilience, and the Women on Purpose book launch will take place at the UJ’s Faculty of Art Design and Architecture (FADA) Gallery on Tuesday, 19 June 2012. The event is scheduled to start at 17:30.
Rasiel’s photographs in the book, Women on Purpose, are remarkable visual expressions of the creativity and resilience of 26 of the founding women of Phumani Paper operating in 10 sites around South Africa. Phumani Paper was established in 1999 as a national poverty alleviation project. Phumani Paper established hand-papermaking manufacturing units in extreme, rural poverty nodes in seven of South Africa’s provinces. Since its inception, Phumani Paper assisted in the creation of more than 250 jobs and the implementation and mentoring of 15 small hand-papermaking enterprises in communities severely affected by unemployment and HIV/Aids. Each paper maker is taught to specialise in local agricultural plant species, resulting in hand-crafted, uniquely South African products.
“In the book, the voices of the women of Phumani Paper come alive through their stories and in photographic portraits. These 26 women remained dedicated and took pride in being leaders. They no longer see themselves as victims of apartheid and poverty but feel empowered to initiate growth and change in their communities,” says Prof Kim Berman, Visual Art lecturer, UJ.
Research collaborators by Prof Berman (UJ) and Jane Hassinger (University of Michigan, USA) contribute framing essays throughout the book. These essays provide cultural and historical contexts and explore the intersections of gender and race-based exploitation and trauma, and the creative work that leads to healing, and empowerment.
The exhibition will run until 30 June 2012 at the FADA Gallery, UJ.
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