Encouraging Women artists

I know it’s been a few months since the exhibitions: Woman at the Top  and ZimbabweIn Design, but I felt l really needed to write about them. They were both major exhibitions that took up ALL of my time in the first quarter of the year, and I guess I was too exhausted to write about them at the time.  I am grateful that both shows gave me an opportunity to sharpen my curating skills and meet so many wonderful people. Both were super successful, and both have detailed catalogs -YAY.



Curatorial Statement

 Ellen Johnson Sirleaf once said, “All girls know that they can be anything now. That transformation is to me one of the most satisfying things.” Indeed many women have gained this revelation and have used it to thrust themselves upwards in order to achieve success. A woman who has achieved success is a woman at the top. Women’s achievements are as diverse in scale and significance as there are different types of women in the world today. Usually, the definition of women’s success is limited to the female executive whose accomplishments tower above her male counterparts. However, success can also include tapping into one’s maternal instincts by nurturing a joy filled family. For others, success is changing one’s status from victim to survivor by overcoming traumatic gender based tests. Success can include being part of a community, yet being brave enough to defy it can also reflect achievement.

Woman at the Top celebrates all forms of women’s success using creative exploration. The exhibition goes beyond merely looking at the repeatedly stated universal and local challenges that women face. It instead highlights the strengths and accomplishments that women have achieved in spite of various forms of difficulty and diverse experiences. It is about breaking the glass ceiling and enduring through trials without playing to the fatigued stereotypes.

The work in this show collectively questions what it means to be a woman? What it means to be at the top of one’s field? For a woman, is the quest for success realistically attainable? In examining these questions the artists have used various forms of media from both traditional and unconventional art practices.  The show is made up of different forms of sculpture, video, photography, painting, printmaking and textile design. The artists have drawn their inspiration from their environments, their family and personal narratives, their experiences or from the experiences of others. Woman at the Top reveals that the artists have observed themselves, their sisters, mothers, daughters, aunts, grandmothers and women different from them in curious ways.

All of the artists in this exhibition have in one way or another contributed significantly to the local art scene in recent times. Some have just embarked on their creative journey, while others are today considered veterans in the field of art. Artists like Maudia Mariga, Agnes Nyanongo and Lorcardia Ndandarika paved the way for many decades ago when they defied social norms to become the first notable female stone sculptors, or first female students in male dominated art institutions. Younger artists such as Davina Jogi and Gina Maxim have recently created spaces that bring together emerging artists, thus giving more people a chance to master their craft. Young artists such as Lucia Nhamo and Zvafadza Soko bring in the diaspora perspective to compliment the grassroots Weya based work of the likes of Melania Chisango that has been practised for many years.

Co- curated by Doreen Sibanda and Tandazani Dhlakama









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