17 July 2018

Zimbabwe: Gallery Promotes Female Artists

For several years women have been excluded systematically on art and anything major. History was mainly written by man in the public sphere, politics, war and administration. In the art sector exclusion was due to a myriad of factors.

Some of the factors were that art forms like textiles and what is called the "decorative arts" were often dismissed as craft and not "fine art".

Many women were kept from pursuing a general education, let alone arts training; and finally the men who dominated the discipline both in practice and history often believed women to be inferior artists.

The National Gallery of Zimbabwe has been working tirelessly with the regards to redressing social injustices and gender imbalances.

It is important to note that for many decades, women have been actively involved in art making, whether as creators and innovators of new forms of artistic or as expression, patrons, collectors, sources of inspiration, or significant contributors as art historians and critics. It is in this vein that the National Gallery of Zimbabwe on the 23rd of August will host a women's exhibition.

Themed the "Equality of Women" the exhibition will attract a sizeable number of female artists exhibiting. The Equality Women of exhibition will be co curated by the National Gallery of Zimbabwe's executive director Doreen Sibanda and assistant curator Valerie Sithole.

The artworks to be exhibited illuminate unspoken words, emotional states, and elations and marginalisations. They show will present topical issues from the Zimbabwean perspective such as cultural suppression, patriarchy, matriarchy, physical and emotional abuse, inheritance and economic dependency, inequality, lack of empowerment and social marginalisation.

Moreover, positive leadership attributes of breaking glass ceilings, success at multi-tasking; stepping into roles previously preserved for men, and choosing to live life on their own terms will also be explored.

Some of the artists to exhibit include Doris Kamupira, Agnes Mupariwa, Grace Nyahangare, Charmaine Chitate, Portia Zvavahera, Virginia Chihota, Helen Teede, Maud Mariga, Davina Jogi, to mention but a few.

Born in 1968, Agnes Mupariwa is a stone sculptor. She started as a stone washer at the Chitungwiza Art Centre which ignited her passion for stone sculpting. She began to carve professionally in 2000.

She specialises in spring stone, opal and fruit Serpentine. Her resilience has seen her succeed in a male dominated stone sculpture industry. She has participated in local and international exhibitions. She won the second prize for originality and creativity by Grove limited in the Decade of Achievements exhibition in 2002 and an honorary mention in the 2017 Brock awards in Chitungwiza.

Born in Mutoko, Doris Kamupira studied art at the then British American Tobacco (BAT) Visual Art Studio now called the National Gallery School of Visual Art and Design. She holds an honors degree in Fine Arts from the Chinhoyi University of Technology. Her work takes a critical view on social, political and cultural issues. Kamupira uses her work as a means for expressing her inner most feelings and for interrogating situations where answers are supposed to be more developmental trends in dimensional changes. Her recent works are mixed media paintings that involve embroidering on canvas and pasting up pieces of cloth or paper.

Meanwhile, Grace Nyahangare is a talented young woman artist bound to make a difference in the society with her body of work creating unity. Printmaking and photography enables her to communicate about her personal life and the world at large.

The Women's month is a month when women are recognised for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political. The E-quality of Women is about work that comments on the perceived or actual parity of women in all spheres of achievement and activity; while offering an opportunity to reflect on the qualities that constitute women from a variety of perspectives.

It will present a layered conversation about how women are, their spheres of freedom and containment and equality. These are interrogated through the work of individual artists. In addition, the exhibition will feature women that have contributed to the development of the world, Africa and Zimbabwe.

This will take the form of a photographic image presentation. Various films produced by women will be available to view during the show in addition to the staging of films for the International Images Film Festival (IIFF) for women scheduled to run from the 24th to the 31st of August 2018.

Various conversations will take place exploring the topic and one event will be the Ladies the Lunch event scheduled for Friday August 31 at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe.

The National Gallery continues to be a hub of art as it has been the voice of reason for the marginalised female artist. Artists are given equal opportunity to exhibit regardless of their gender.

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