Michigan State University masthead



Siyazama book launch

Siyazama: "We are trying"

Michigan State University Museum announces publication of a new book that explores the intersection of creative expression, education and health care, “Siyazama: Art, AIDS and Education in South Africa.”

The book launch in the U.S. coincides with the national conference of the Society for the Arts in Healthcare conference May 2-5 in Detroit.  The conference, “Arts & Health: A Global View,” explores how the arts provide a platform for healing, education, prevention, wellness and even cost reduction. and “Siyazama” co-author Kate Wells is a keynote speaker at this event.

“The Siyazama Project effectively melds the arts, public health, and the power of social networks into a culturally sensitive and strategically effective challenge to the AIDS epidemic in South Africa.  This is what arts and health is all about,” observes Gary Christensen, M.D., University of Minnesota and president of the Society for Arts in Healthcare.

Throughout the world art has long been used as a tool for cultural, social and economic change. The Siyazama (Zulu for "we are trying") Project, uses traditional and contemporary artistic expression to document the realities of HIV/AIDS and to open lines of communication about the virus. Though based in South Africa, the project has become a model for collaborations among artists, educators and health practitioners.

Prior to this publication, the MSU Museum has been working with artists and educations in South Africa over the last decade, resulting in a 2006 Siyazama exhibition at the MSU Museum, as well as a series of educational programs for MSU and the surrounding community. The Siyazama Project also served as a lead-in to a new “Creativity and Health” initiative the MSU Museum is also involved in.  Curators and educators from the College of Human Medicine, College of Education and MSU Museum are researching ways to connect medical practitioners with the humanities in ways that promote healing and health care practice. In 2010 Michigan State University launched the university-wide 'The Creativity Initiative' to foster multi-disciplinary research on both broad and distinctive aspects of creative processes. One of its research clusters is Creativity and Health as there is growing evidence of the power of art and the humanities to heal and educate everyone in the circle of care, including patients, family, caregivers, health providers and advocates.

“This book should be of interest to artists, designers, health care providers, art educators, health educators, art historians, folklorists, cultural heritage specialists, museum professionals, and all those who have an interest in art that intentionally addresses current and critical issues in the world,” says co-author Marsha MacDowell MSU Museum curator and professor in the Art, Art History, and Design Department at MSU.  “The Siyazama Project and this book are also timely examples of the ways in which museums use their resources to advance knowledge about societal issues and strategies to address them, and health-related workers who seek innovative ways to address the AIDS epidemic.”

“Siyazama: Art, AIDS and Education in South Africa” is available at the MSU Museum Store ($38.50). The book is published jointly by the Durban University of Technology Faculty of Arts and Design and the Michigan State University Museum.  Co-authors are C. Kurt Dewhurst and Marit Dewhurst.

The Michigan State University Museum is the natural science and culture museum at Michigan State University and the state’s first Smithsonian affiliate.