Art can help see us through the hard times

This is why, for her latest painting project, the NWU’s Kganya Mbotshane will be focusing on portraits of women and the role they play in society.

Kganya Mbotshane  with one of her paintings in the series “Setso-African Identity”.

In tough times such as now, when the Covid-19 pandemic has turned life upside down, art can bring a sense of peace, unity and hope.

Artist Kgnaya describes herself as a bit of an introvert. She uses her art to speak to people and to tell a story.

“We are going through so many phases in our lives and relationships; hard and difficult times, and most recently the Corona virus. I want to portray women as encouragement ‘that we will also get through this one’,” says Kganya, who is part of the client services team at People and Culture.

Starting her love affair

Her love affair with the arts, and especially painting, started when she took visual arts as a subject in high school. “I took a break from painting to focus on obtaining my degree in industrial psychology and labour relations on the campus in Potchefstroom in 2017.”

She then decided to give art her utmost attention. The results are paying off. In September 2019, an exhibition of Kganya’s work was held in Klerksdorp and Johannesburg.

“I do not only look at art as a means of income; it is a language that I use to speak to people and to tell a story. I want my artwork to change lives and to make an impact in communities and society as a whole.”

Telling Africa’s many stories

Kganya loves to create paintings that portray culture and identity in the African sphere, focusing especially on cultures to which she is exposed as a South African. True to this passion, for her first exhibition she chose the title “Setso-African Identity” (setso meaning culture in Sesotho).

She hopes to use her art not only to create conversations among people, but also to inspire them to learn more about everyone’s cultures, to embrace their roots and to preserve what they have learned.

“We are a nation of many cultures, some of which may not have been fully embraced in the past. Most of our youth grows up in a world where they are not taught about their roots, nor are they motivated to embrace who they are,” she says.

Know where you come from

“We are mostly caught up in the latest trends and what looks nice now. An old African proverb that was passed down for generations is very important to me and my work. It goes something like this: ‘It is crucial to know where you come from because only then will you know where you are going’.”

Kganya says she loves to express herself through her art. “My art is the voice of who I am,” she says.