Nontsikeleo Mutiti

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Artist Statement

My work explores the relationship between the everyday and the studied, deliberate nature of algorithms. An ongoing investigation into the aesthetics of the African Hair Braiding Salon, brings me to think past the propagation of traditional customs and the symbolism behind kinds of African hair styling, through to ideas around motif, repetition and labour in the process of image production. I am often looking for ways to imply the machined action of the Hair Braider’s wrist in my work, whilst also representing other social aspects of the African Hair Braiding salon such as language, colour and various graphic forms. As I rely on familiar motifs from my current surroundings as well as memories of my home, Harare, Zimbabwe, I begin to learn about and map out the complexity and nuances of the potent and meaningful everyday objects and practices within the African migrant/immigrant community in New York, as well other spaces where the African diaspora persists.

During my time living in New York City I have become drawn to spaces where the presence of other African immigrants is highlighted. The streets of Harlem, most notably 125th and 116th street are sites that have informed a great deal of my artistic research. In these spaces culturally specific meaning can be read from the surfaces of garments, beauty supply signs, product containers and African Hair Braider business cards. The forms of these culturally specific objects; their shapes, typographies and situation form the foundations of a vocabulary through which I begin to articulate myself.

My practice traverses the boundaries of fine art, design and public engagement. Works on paper and those rendered as time based audio visual explorations incorporate the digital through hand rendered techniques, as well as computer aided and photographic processes.

Images scanned from books produced in the 1970 in West Africa as well as Black Hair Magazine from the United states are reprinted and manipulated by hand, finding their way into collage works that are then reproduced through a number of different print mediums. The same scanned and manually manipulated images are allowed to move through other technologies such as video editing software. In this space these works move in time with sounds from the streets of Harlem, Djembe drum beats as well as the chants of University students in South Africa. My explorations to date have been two dimensional and virtual with the intention of covering surface and having a relationship to physical space and specific bodies. I am also interested in the for of the book as a time based medium that implies sequence and engages the viewer on a physical level

I am interested the production of objects in multiples. Booklets, print runs of posters, zines, pin-back buttons and booklets make it possible to distribute images and texts to a targeted audience. I am committed to public engagement and work to create situations for the exchange of experiences and skills both in the research and gathering phase of my work as well as at the end through workshops and public conversations.

 

CV

education

2012 Master of Fine Art, Yale School of Art

2007 ZIVA (Zimbabwe Institute of Vigital Arts), Diploma in Graphic Design and New Media

awards, fellowships, residencies

2015
Centre for Book Arts, Keyholder Residency, New York January 2014 – January 2016

2014
Recess Session, residency, New York, June – August

2013
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s Knight Arts Challenge, for Zimbabwe Cultural Centre Detroit

2012
Alice Kimball English Travelling Fellowship, Yale School of Art, New Haven, Connecticut
Fellow, Create Change Program, Laundromat Project, New York

2011
Stavros Niarchos Foundation Scholarship, Yale School of Art, New Haven, Connecticut

2007
Highest Achievement, Zimbabwe Institute of Vigital Arts, Harare, Zimbabwe

solo exhibitions

2012
Hair Show, Saloon/Salon, Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, Detroit, Michigan
T(H)READ, 2739 Edwin, Hamtramck, Michigan

group exhibitions

2015
Salon Style, The Studio Museum in Harlem
After Afropolitain, Weeksville Heritage Centre

2014
Funkgodjazzmedicine, Free People’s Medical Clinic, Creative Time, New York
Zimbabwe/Detroit Cultural Centre, Gallery Delta, Harare, Zimbabwe

2013
Zimbabwe/Detroit Cultural Centre, Public Pool, Detroit, Michigan
Give/ Take, Community Folk Art Center, Department of African American Studies at Syracuse University, Syracuse
A Celebration of Colour, Gallery North, Setauket, New York
Armory Show, New York

2012
Remitting Default: Sonic Diagrams, Recess Activities, New York
YGDMFA 2012, Yale School of Art, New Haven, Connecticut

2011
First Year Show Fall 2011, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut

2007
Women’s Day Exhibition, Zimbabwe German Society, Harare, Zimbabwe

2006
Women of Standards Exhibition, National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Harare, Zimbabwe

2005
Women of Passion Exhibition, National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Harare, Zimbabwe

2002
Young Artists Exhibition, Gallery Delta, Harare, Zimbabwe

productions and curatorial

2014
Zimbabwe/Detroit Cultural Centre, Gallery Delta, Harare, Zimbabwe

2013
Zimbabwe/Detroit Cultural Centre, Public Pool, Detroit, Michigan

2012
YGDMFA aka Thesis Show, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut
Scenic Design, The Shipment, Yale Drama Coalition, New Haven, Connecticut
Scenic Design and Multimedia, Osama Play, Yale Drama Coalition, New Haven, Connecticut

2009
Scenic Design and Costume Design, Easter Ballet, National Ballet of Zimbabwe and Dance Trust of Zimbabwe

2007
Scenic Design and Costume Design, Kalanga (Dance Production) Harare International Festival of the Arts
Scenic Design and Costume Design, The Bridge, Reps Theatre, Harare, Zimbabwe

2006
Curator, Women of Standards Exhibition, International Images Film Festival for Women, National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Harare, Zimabwe
Assistant Curator; Women of Passion Exhibition, International Images Film Festival for Women, National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Harare, Zimbabwe

professional experience

2015 Selection panel, Recess, New York

2010 – 2012 Technical Assistant, Videography, Digital Technology Office, Yale School of Art, New Haven,Connecticut

2011– 2012 Curatorial Assistant, Department of African Art, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut

2010 Graphic Illustrator, Sterling Memorial Library, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut

2009 Curator of Education, National Art Gallery of Zimbabwe, Harare, Zimbabwe

teaching experience

2014 – present Assistant Professor, School of Film and Media Studies, Purchase College, State University of New York

2013 – 2014 Visiting Assistant Professor, School of Film and Media Studies, Purchase College, State University of New York

2012 – 2013 Adjunct, School of Film and Media Studies, Purchase College, State University of New York

2012 Teaching Assistant, Senior Seminar, Yale School of Art, New Haven, Connecticut

2011 Teaching Assistant, Introduction to Graphic Design, Yale School of Art, New Haven, Connecticut

2009 Instructor, Art and Design, Dominican Convent, Harare, Zimbabwe

2008 – 2009 Lecturer, History of Graphic Design, Zimbabwe Institute of Vigital Arts, Harare, Zimbabwe

2005 – 2008 Instructor, Art and Design, Chisipite Senior School, Harare, Zimbabwe

2003 – 2004 Instructor, Art and Design, Arundel School, Harare, Zimbabwe

2001 – 2002 Instructor, Art and Design, Dominican Convent Senior and Primary, Harare, Zimbabwe

lectures and workshops

2015
Facilitator, Asiko 2015, Maputo, Mozambique
Artist talk, Studio X, Jo

2014 Visiting Critic, Yale School of Art, New Haven,Connecticut

2013 Visiting Critic, Rutgers University, Newark, New Jersey

2012
Visiting Artist Lecture, University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Visiting Artist Lecture series, College of Creative Studies, Detroit, Michigan
Visiting Critic, College of Creative Studies, Detroit, Michigan
Lecture, A New Work, A Now Work, A Non Work, Yale African Students Association, New Haven, Connecticut
Workshop, Embellished Portraits, Studio Museum, Harlem, New York
Lecture, Textile printmaking in Africa, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut
Workshop facilitator, Block Printing, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut

2011
Visiting Critic, Zimbabwe Institute of Vigital Arts, Harare, Zimbabwe
Visiting Artist Lecture, Harare Polytechnic College, Harare, Zimbabwe
Visiting Artist Lecture, Chisipite Senior School, Harare, Zimbabwe

2010 Typography Workshop, Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School, New Haven, Connecticut

Graphic Design Commissions

2015 Muse, Mikalene Thomas, Apeture, New York

2014 Waiting Room Magazine, Free People’s Medical Clinic, funkgodjazzmedicine, collaboration with Simone Leigh

2013-2014 Re-design, website and collateral Laundromat Project,New York, re-design, website and collateral, collaboration with Julia Novitch

2013 Voter Eligibility Project, Centre of Urban Pedagogy, New York

2013 Journal cover design, African Presidential Center Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts

2012 Identity, Wondsor Suites, Modus Hotels, Washington DC

2012 Promotional Video, Laundromat Project, New York

2012 Album Cover, Comrade Fatso and Chabvondoka, Harare, Zimbabwe

2008 Kalanga Proverb Book, Kellogg Foundation and HIFA

2009
Album Cover, Outspoken and the Essence
Spread the Word, Magamba Cultural activist Network, Boston, Washington DC
Album Cover, House of Hunger, Comrade Fatso and Chabvondoka
Album Launch Material, House of Hunger, Comrade Fatso and Chabvondoka
Posters and flyers, Magamba Cultural activist Network

publications and interviews, press

2015 https://i-d.vice.com/en_us/article/talking-politics-at-the-beauty-salon

2015 http://issues.ayibamagazine.com/ruka-braid-knitto-weave/

2015 http://www.okayafrica.com/news/african-hair-braiding-salon-nontsikelelo-mutiti-ruka/

2015 http://www.okayafrica.com/photos/african-art-best-of-2014/5/

2014 http://voicesofafrica.co.za/an-artistic-exploration-hair-braiding/

2014 The Art Newspaper, You’re sure of a big surprise, Jori Finkel. Museums, Issue 255, March 2014 http://www.theartnewspaper.com/articles/Youre-sure-of-a-big-surprise/31998

2012
Creative Conversations, Laundromat Project, New York
Graphic #22, Yale Issue, Soeul, Korea
Dimensions, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut