Artist Profile: Mercy Moyo

Mercy Moyo has exhibited at the National Gallery of Art, Zimbabwe many times. In addition, her work has been included in shows in the Czech Republic, Finland, South Africa, and the United States. She is the first woman artist to win the National Arts Merit Award for two-dimensional work in Zimbabwe and has received a number of residencies. She studied at the Peter Birch School of Art and Design and the National Gallery of Zimbabwe Visual Art Studios.

In her words…

Art is in my DNA. As a child, I would sit next to my grandmother and observe her weave baskets that she would sell in the marketplace to get money for the family. I was fascinated and reveled in the fact that each and every basket was different even though the materials and colors were the same. The more she made the more creative she became – these baskets were a significant part of her life and meant money for the family. I began to draw as a very young person, and used my drawings to describe the world around me and tell the story of life in contemporary Africa. My images are primarily collages, incorporating objects, which compliment and reinforce the images depicted. I use oil, acrylics, charcoal (and most recently smoke from candles) and pencils to create vibrant images of contemporary women in Zimbabwe today. One of my goals is to use my art to show case the beauty of African women be they from the village or the capital city of Harare. I do not consider myself a feminist but I want to portray the real African woman – in her long skirts, fuller figure, with her head nicely covered and not showing off. The African woman in my work does not wear mini skirts; she abides by the norms and rules of the typical African way of life.

Of late, I have had the opportunity to exhibit and work in other parts of Africa. These experiences have influenced my work significantly – the men working in the mines of South Africa was a dark experience – they live their young lives underground and surface only to socialize and sleep at night. I capture the lives of these miners using charcoals, and working in hues of black and brown. Unlike most of my works which show people in community e.g., dialogue and deep conversation, these young men are solitary lone figures living outside of the traditional African community or family.

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