The Umhandara hwaAmai Art exhibition took place over three days at Charles Austin Theatre after being officially launched by the Youth Cultural Arts Festival (Yocal) board member Dr Fredrick Kasese on November 08.
The exhibition was the brainchild of 23-year-old Gracious Joto, an Interior Design and Fabric Art student at Chinhoyi University of Technology (Cut).
When asked why she opted for the name Umhandara hwaMai which literally means ‘mother’s virginity’, Joto said she wanted a name which could aptly capture the unique visual appeal offered by her work of art.
“In the literal sense, you can’t see your mother’s virgin days so our work gives you the opportunity to see something equivalent. It’s a work of art that you would not want to miss as it is uniquely appealing. That is the message behind it all; something that no eye has ever seen before,” said Joto.
To make her art, Joto makes use of such readily available materials as cardboard boxes, rags, shrubs, leaves, wood and twigs.
The art is made all the more distinct by Joto’s choice of theme titles; contemporary issues that revolve around culture including gender stereotypes inherent in conservative societies.
In one of her pieces titled ‘Me and my mind’, she presents a woman who is seen to be yelling for help as she is bound by chains on her throat. Closer examination shows human footprints dominating the part of her body that should ordinarily contain her brain, highlighting the African woman’s struggle against a highly patriarchal society.