About 40 pieces of "anti-apartheid" art created by South African artists will be exhibited at UC Irvine today as part of the activities honoring Martin Luther King Jr. on the anniversary of the slain civil rights leader's birth.
The paintings, sculptures, photographs and wood carvings were created primarily by artists from Soweto, the black suburb of Johannesburg, and will be displayed from 8 a.m. to noon at the University Center. They are part of a private collection gathered over several years by James Gardner, an Orange County psychologist who once taught at the University of Witwatersrand outside Johannesburg.
"Apartheid is something Martin Luther King would be working against if he were alive today," said Gardner, who left South Africa in 1980. "I haven't really done anything with (the art) except collect it over the years. But when I read about the UCI Memorial Symposium for Martin Luther King, and how his son was arrested recently in Washington in an anti-apartheid demonstration, I thought this would be a good time to exhibit some of it."
The pieces were taken out of South Africa only a few at a time because "technically, it's against the law for this to leave the country," Gardner said.
To prevent possible repercussions for South African artists, Gardner said signatures on signed works will be hidden.
"There are also some anonymous works that cannot be identified," he said.