Sethembile Msezane

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Sethembile Msezane was always told she could do anything she wanted to do. So far, she has, and then some. According to the South African visual artist and sculpture (yes, sculpture), in her household the “Vocabulary that was encouraged was 'I will,' 'I can,' and an action plan to follow through. It still works today.” Apparently so. Sethembile has exhibited her art, around the world, as well as performing using her own body to convey her artistic message. Her list of art accolades includes being the first recipient of the Rising Light award at the Mbokodo Awards in 2016, winning a TAF & Sylt Emerging Artist Residency (TASA) award that same year, and becoming a TEDGlobal speaker in 2017, to name a few.

Currently she’s participating in Unframed, the special projects section of the Cape Town Art Fair (“I'll be exhibiting a large sculpture adorned with hair and sod irons.”), and working on a new solo exhibition entitled “Speaking Through Walls.” She has also had the support and affirmation of her professional mentors, naming Johannesburg based curator and art historian Portia Malatjie as someone instrumental in her artistic development. “She convinced me that my research was valid,” she shares. “She pointed out how important my work is, and how people will identify with my observations on the paucity of the Black female body in memorialised public space and how this affects society at large.”

Whether in her personal or art life, all of her supporters have shaped her into her ideal powerful woman—“A woman who knows her own mind and is not afraid express it.” Yet even though she can speak her mind and express her ideas, she also knows when to listen. When asked the soundtrack to her life, her answer is a surprising one. “Silence. It's uncomfortable at first but then you get to understand yourself better and start hearing the tailored soundtrack the universe wants you to hear.”

ArtsTeneille Craig