Kate Kwati who is amongst the four artists currently showcasing an art exhibition called The Mirrored Self at Thapong Visual Arts Centre has made a bold statement with pieces signalling a change in feminist art and the status of women artists.
In one of the most interesting aspect in the gallery, Kwati installed an artwork called ‘try walking in my shoes, the woman in me.’ Kwati took objects from everyday life like the Bible, dresses and shoes and used them as metaphors for love and pain. She arranged pairs of stilettos with thorns scattered on the ground.
It is inspired by nature and intrinsically interwoven with the environment about women’s hardships and triumphs. The power of the piece is in how it takes a seemingly simple setting and re-imagines it into something that relays important issues about women.
In the piece, Kwati sought to use the installation to bring to attention the plight of women. It is a piece that transformed the shoes and thorns into objects of powerful volume to impact the viewer.
In an interview with Arts & Culture, Kwati said this time around her theme was centred on the broken heart. She is mostly concerned about women who toil and end up being heart broken.
“My theme is ‘The Woman who’. If you are a woman they will see you looking beautiful rocking those stilettos not knowing that you are hurting inside. But eventually a woman always finds a way out of such situations,” she observed.
Besides the installation piece that mirrors the plight of women, there is more to the work. Visitors can also roam around the gallery and participate in Kwati’s enchanting artistic adventure.
Her works, such as the blooded broken hearts paintings on Bible pages draws viewers in to this mystifying and gripping void. These artworks somewhat overwhelm the viewer with continuous imagery, thereby creating a physical connection between pain and healing. Most of her works have the drippy blood insertion and Kwati says it is part of the healing process.
“The paintings bring a concept of the bleeding heart. I used the Bible in some of these paintings.
I wanted to approach this concept looking at myself. When my heart was broken, I sought refuge in the word of God, so that helped to heal hence the use of the Bible in my artwork. The Bible is medicine to each and everyone who believes in the Word,” she proselytised, betraying a hint of typical religiosity.
She said she portrays women as people who get wounded but most of the times find ways of getting back onto their feet. “We get to heal whatever has been broken. Yes we can remain with the scars, but at the end of the day we get healed,” she highlighted.
Her artwork across the gallery is a perfect way to bring people into a conversation around women’s emotional and physical pain.
She used the paintings to address significant crises in women’s lives. Everyone including men could be inspired by her artworks. Using and selecting objects that symbolise an aspect of women struggle, she highlights meaning that is extremely effective to her audience. Kwati further said that to her art is not just about beautiful pictures but the beauty that lies in the message.
“The beauty of art is helping somebody to overcome any situation they find themselves in. We have seen beautiful pictures from way back but now we have to use art as healing tool, a therapeutic means,” she added.
Installation as a medium of art has the power to involve the viewer like no other medium.
No wonder Kwati turns objects into a physical piece of work, which can convey importance messages. Kwati also said she used mixed media but most of the time she uses installations and performance.
“Installations art to me brings out more than what a canvas can do. I have limitations on the canvas, so for me to express information it has to be installation,” she said.
The artiste said she had a performance that also reiterated her theme, while she usually dealt with women issues in every art that she created. She said she drew her inspiration from her personal experiences and other women around her.