Commemorative portraiture: the artistic representation of black women in key positions from the Vaal Region

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Matoba-Thibudi, Matshepo Priscilla
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Vaal University of Technology
My practice-based research aimed to produce commemorative portraits of black women in key positions who are associated with the Vaal Region. The study was undertaken in order to contribute to the empowering, positive and growing body of creative research on the visual representation of black women in the visual art field. My concern lies in the dearth of artistic representation of black women, particularly from the Vaal Region and with the hegemonic Westernised portrayal of black women in a Visual Arts discipline dominated by prejudiced attitudes towards issues of race and gender. This was accomplished in two steps. Firstly, through the examination of black feminist theories which underpin my theoretical framework, and further challenge and draw attention to the omissions, invisibility, non-recognition and negative portrayal of black women. In addition selected techniques in artworks of Zanele Muholi, Karina Turok, Sue Williamson and Bongi Bengu have been appropriated to create my body of work. Secondly, I utilise commemorative portraiture to produce iconic portraits of advocate Faith Pansy Tlakula, Professor Ntombekayise Irene Moutlana, Professor Kholeka Constance Moloi, Avitha Sooful, Lerato Moloi, Terry Pheto, Lira, Palesa Mokubung and the late mama Adelaide Tambo which were exhibited in the bodutu gallery accompanied by a catalogue and a comment book. Both of these methods are qualitatively explored as creative strategies to portray and award agency positively to black women through Third World readings of gendered perspectives.
M. Tech. (Department of Visual Arts and Design: Fine Art, Faculty of Human Sciences), Vaal University of Technology.
Commemoration, Portraiture, Representation, Black women, Vaal Region, Black feminism