Zimbabwean Female Artists Challenge Gender Roles in 'We Should All Be Human' Art Exhibition

Since International Women's Day on March 8, the National Gallery of Zimbabwe has been running an art exhibit called “We Should All Be Human” showcasing 21 works of art by female artists. The exhibition curated by Fadzai Muchemwa honours women’s ambitions and victories and highlights some of the contentious subjects in Zimbabwe, such as reproductive rights, migration, and health. 

Nothando Chiwanga is one of 21 female artists whose works have been on show. Her artwork called “Immortal” is a collage that challenges gender roles in a patriarchal society. It combines a yellow miner’s helmet with a traditional African reed basket to showcase the complexities of women's lives in Zimbabwe. "It’s not often to find women doing such kind of work as mining. In Africa, women are mostly looked down upon. People just see the face or body but the work that you do can also represent your identity." Chiwanga said in an interview with AP Africa News.

Nothando Chiwanga working on her latest piece
Nothando Chiwanga working on her latest piece
Image Credit: AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi

"In my work, I seek to question our traditional beliefs on gender and to challenge myself to explore and be adventurous." she continues. "I have faced a lot of challenges because as a woman you have to be married when you turn into your 20s. Even growing up you will be told a woman must aspire for marriage, you must not aspire to be great but as an artist I have told myself that I really want to achieve, I need to be big. You mustn’t force a woman to be in marriage before she can perfect herself."

The exhibit was designed to raise the profile of young female artists and encourage them to continue creating art despite societal pressure to marry, have children, and focus on domestic chores. The show aims to change the narrative of women being featured only as subjects and not creators of art in Zimbabwe.

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Mungwadzi Godwin

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