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MUNTHE ART MONDAY: MUOFHE MANAVHELA

Please introduce yourself and tell us about what you do.

My name is Muofhe Manavhela, I am 24 years old, and I live and practice as an artist in Johannesburg. I work mostly in paint and printmaking and occasionally explore a variety of other mediums – in general, I am an all round multi-disciplinary artist.

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Can you name some other female (artist) that inspires you and explain why they do so?


Oh, so many, I could really write a lot about the artists I am surrounded by. I am lucky to be in a time where a lot of women in the art industry are coming up with me, some I am lucky to call friends. We wish each other well and support each other. But if I must choose one right now off the top of my head, it must be Cinthia Sifa Mulanga - I love her! I’ve watched Cinthia grow over the years and what I admire most about her, is the unmoving grace she has maintained through all the changes. The Cinthia I met years ago is still the same Cinthia now and I think that’s really inspiring. This industry requires a lot from you, and I often fear how such expectations can lead to unnoticed change, but Cinthia reminds me how to stay grounded. You get this groundedness in her work too because her progress and growth feels so natural.

Muofhe is wearing Mint shirt and Mirache vest.

What has been the most challenging aspect of being a woman in the arts?

Being taken seriously. The kind of work I make, looks very playful to the eye but I am a very shy and reserved person. So, I think from first impression, people don’t understand how much I value respect. I deserve respect because I only ever give it. I also demand to be taken seriously because I take myself very seriously. I have a purpose that I speak on in my quiet, intimate, alone time. And when I leave this space, I don’t ever want anyone or anything that goes against this purpose. This has been challenging because like I said, people work on first impression, and the impression I give is who I am 100%, but there are additional layers to this that require time and intricate understanding, but it is these layers that really make up who I am and it is these layers that deserve the most attention from people.

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Could you explain more about how being a woman has affected your career?

I try not to let womanhood “affect” my career more than I allow it to lend to my career. My work is an example of this. My work speaks on womanhood in all its intricacies, the good and the bad. I think allowing my womanhood, or rather my coming of age into womanhood has also allowed me to feel beautiful all throughout, and as a result show this beauty in my being and in my work.

But if I have to think about how, it affects me, I think the way womanhood affects a lot of women in their respective careers, it’s about asserting your position amongst the people around you. I am really young, and I started even younger, I have had to work really hard to be taken seriously, I’ve had to fight for the respect I deserve.

Muofhe is wearing Mint shirt.

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What would you like people to notice in your artwork?


The joy and comfort. I always used to say that I want my work to slowly change people's predetermined ideas, stereotypes and opinions on women, especially black women. I used to say this mainly with regards to beauty standards, but now as my work grows its more about the overall essence of womanhood. Beauty is a part of womanhood because women are so beautiful. But I think even more for beauty standards. The beauty of each woman is in her uniqueness, and we need to acknowledge all of these individual beauties.

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Muofhe is wearing Mint shirt.