Artist Billie Zangewa: On Art and Everyday Feminism
Join artist Billie Zangewa and Hirshhorn curator Anne Reeve to explore how simply experiencing the motions of daily life can be transformed into a political act.
Born in Malawi and now based in South Africa, Billie Zangewa uses silk to create collaged portraits of scenes from her daily life, describing a kind of “everyday feminism” in the sharing of intimate moments that women usually experience at home. She began making these works after the birth of her son, and she leverages the tremendous power of representing and giving form to her own experiences of daily life as a Black woman. As these works are linked to her personal experience, they nod to larger sociopolitical questions around gender and racial prejudices.
Zangewa’s textile collage A Vivid Imagination (2021) is on view in Put It This Way: (Re)Visions of the Hirshhorn Collection at the Museum through Fall 2023.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Billie Zangewa (b. 1973, Blantyre, Malawi; lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa) creates intricate collages composed of hand-stitched fragments of raw silk. These figurative compositions explore contemporary intersectional identity in an attempt to challenge the historical stereotype, objectification, and exploitation of the Black female form. Zangewa, who began her career in the fashion and advertising industries, employs her understanding of textiles to portray personal and universal experiences through domestic interiors, urban landscapes, and portraiture. Her earliest works were embroideries on found fabrics depicting remembered botanical scenes and animals from Botswana, where the artist was raised, but she soon transitioned to creating cityscapes, focusing on her experience as a woman in the city of Johannesburg and her personal relationships. These works explored her experience of the male gaze, leading her to think more critically about how women view themselves and what the visualization of the female gaze, through self-portraiture, could look like.
Image credit: Jurie Potgieter