UJ to honour iconic Ndebele artist Esther Mahlangu with honourary doctorate

2018-04-05 21:44
Ndebele artist Esther Mahlangu (File, Gallo Images, The Times, Ruvan Boshoff)..

Ndebele artist Esther Mahlangu (File, Gallo Images, The Times, Ruvan Boshoff)..

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Internationally acclaimed Ndebele artist Esther Nikwambi Mahlangu will receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Johannesburg on Monday.

Her work first won international attention in 1989 after her inclusion in the important exhibition Magiciens de la Terre at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. She has racked up countless awards ever since and was most recently honoured with a mural by artist Imani Shanklin Roberts in New York.

"With this honorary doctorate, we recognise Esther Mahlangu for her legacy as a cultural entrepreneur, skillfully negotiating local and global worlds, and as an educator," said the executive dean of the UJ Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture, Professor Federico Freschi.

"Indeed, as a visionary individual, she traverses what to others are insurmountable political barriers."

READ: The youth have thrown away their traditions - Esther Mahlangu

During a News24 interview at her homestead in Mpumalanga, Mahlangu said: "Through my art, I have seen the world. People from all over the world come to KwaNdebele to learn about my culture.

"IsiNdebele is my culture and I love it. I speak isiNdebele, I walk isiNdebele and I wear isiNdebele,” she said proudly in isiNdebele.

Mahlangu’s creativity was evident from a young age. By the time she was 10, she had been taught the art of Ndebele homestead wall painting and beadwork by her mother and grandmother.

Esther Mahlangu: Ndebele art showed me the world

Heritage icon and Ndebele artist Esther Mahlangu wants to be remembered for her work. Mahlangu has been painting since she was 10 years old and is today passing on her teachings at her home in KwaNdebele in Middelburg, Mpumalanga.

"Eventually they told me that my work was impressive and they called me to paint the front of the house. I never looked back until I got married. In my culture they used to say, when you get married, you have to paint your first house yourself," she said.

Next month, Mahlangu will be participating in an international women’s exhibition - which will include work by conceptual artist Yoko Ono - at the Nirox Foundation Sculpture Park in Johannesburg.

Mahlangu is the third recipient of an honorary doctorate from the university during this year’s autumn graduation season.

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng received an honorary doctorate on March 27, in recognition of "his pioneering commitment to serving humankind by upholding the independence of the judiciary and by promoting access to justice in tangible ways".

Read more on:    uj  |  esther mahlangu

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