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Nigerian artist Mary Evans said during her college years she was the only black student in her class, but this didn’t become the focus of her artwork until she had what she described as an eye-opening experience

A contemporary mixed media artist, Evans discussed the evolution of her art, focusing on themes of immigration, cultural preservation and identity in her work at a talk on Monday. 

Born in 1963 in Lagos, Nigeria, Evans immigrated to England at the age of five. As a result, Evans said the majority of her education was taught from a primarily British perspective. Evans said she was usually one of only a handful of minority students for the duration of her experiences in college. 

In Amsterdam, after visiting the immigration office, she was cleared for three months to study, while other students were allowed to study uninterrupted for a year. This experience shifted the focus of her work.

“I was too Nigerian for the Dutch, [and] too Nigerian for the British,” Evans said.

Evans said she remembered trying to figure out whether or not she could ever belong in her new home.

“My mom has lived in England for twice as long as she has in Nigeria, but when she says home, she means Nigeria,” Evans said.

The unifying theme in her art is the constant movement of cultures as a result of immigration.

“The core of my practice, really, is how people move around the world and what cultural capital you take with you,” Evans said.

Evans said she likes to keep her images simple because extraneous details tend to distract from the message. According to Evans, a very direct, pictographic image says a lot.

For her medium, Evans works primarily with brown paper and traditional household items, including doilies and gingerbread biscuits.

“As a painter, I would always print in an offset way,” Evans said.

Evans said she let go of more formal painting techniques while in Amsterdam.

“I don’t need fine art material to make art,” she said.

Faith Ann Ruszkowski, a journalism and business sophomore, said she admired the paradoxical element of Evan’s art. 

“I like the impermanence of her art,” Ruszkowski said. “She makes temporary work through permanent work, which was a relic of the past.” 

Evans’ lecture was one in a series of speaking engagements meant to introduce students and faculty to professionals working in art.

Eddie Chambers, associate professor of art history and African and African American studies, organized Monday’s lecture. Chambers said the goal of the series was to connect the community directly with artists.

“[The goal is] to hear directly from artists,” Chambers said. “Artists have their own way of illuminating their practice.”

AMSTERDAM — A policy barring foreign tourists from buying marijuana in the Netherlands went into effect in parts of the country Tuesday, with attention focused on the southern city of Maastricht, where a cafe was warned over violating the ban and around 200 smokers marched in protest.

Weed is technically illegal in the Netherlands, but it has been sold openly for decades in small amounts in designated cafes known as “coffee shops” under the country’s famed tolerance policy.

Under a government policy change, as of May 1, only holders of a “weed pass” are supposed to be allowed to purchase the drug in three southern provinces. Nonresidents aren’t eligible for the pass, which means tourists are effectively banned.

The policy isn’t supposed to go into effect in Amsterdam, home to around a third of the country’s coffee shops, until next year — and it may never be. The city opposes the idea and the conservative national government collapsed last week, raising questions about whether a new Cabinet will persevere with the policy change after elections are held in September.

Most attention Tuesday was on the city of Maastricht, which borders both Belgium and Germany and which has suffered the effects of a constant flow of traffic from more than a million non-Dutch Europeans driving to the city annually just to purchase as much cannabis as possible and drive back home.

Most shops in Maastricht plan to refuse to use the pass and kept their doors shut Tuesday.

AMSTERDAM — Dutch coffee shop owners went to court Wednesday in a last ditch bid to block a government plan to stop foreigners from buying marijuana in the Netherlands.

Lawyers representing the coffee shops oppose what would be the most significant change in decades to the country’s famed soft drug tolerance: turning marijuana cafes into “members only” clubs open solely to Dutch residents.

Members would only be able to get into the coffee shops by registering for a “weed pass” and the shops would only be allowed a maximum of 2,000 members.

The move comes into force in the south of the country May 1 and is scheduled to roll out nationwide on Jan. 1, 2013. Whether it will be enforced in Amsterdam, whose coffee shops are a major tourist draw, remains to be seen.

The city has strongly opposed the pass idea and mayor Eberhard van der Laan says he wants to negotiate a workable compromise with the country’s Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten.

Lawyers for the cafe owners told a judge at The Hague District Court that the move — aimed at reining in problems caused by foreign “drug tourists” who buy marijuana in the Netherlands and resell it in neighboring countries — is “clearly discriminatory.”

Lawyer Ilonka Kamans argued that Dutch drugs policy gives citizens “the fundamental right to the stimulant of their choosing” and should not deprive visiting foreigners of the same right.

He said the government wants to bring coffee shops back to what they were originally intended to be: “small local stores selling to local people.”

Marc Josemans of the Easy Going coffee shop in Maastricht said he expects the government will lose because it hasn’t thought through consequences or tried other ways of achieving its aims.

“We understand that this topic is something that’s of interest to tourists, but it’s equally important to our Dutch customers, which is most of them,” he told the AP ahead of Wednesday’s hearing.

“The limits on membership are going to lead to immediate problems in cities that don’t have enough coffee shops.”

Josemans said that if the court’s April 27 ruling goes against them, the Maastricht coffee shops plan to disregard the ruling, forcing the government to prosecute one of them in a test case.

Though the weed pass policy was designed to resolve traffic problems facing southern cities, later studies have predicted that the result of the system would be a return to street dealing and an increase in petty crime — the original reason for the tolerance policy started in the 1970s.

Printed on Friday, April 20, 2012 as: Weed tourism in Amsterdam to end in 2013