With Africa’s colonial history, how does one begin to reimagine African identities and stories?
One might begin by looking at African identities and storytellers who have made it their mission to tell African stories from the mind of an African.
We can look at the cultural writings of Wole Soyinka and Credo Mutwa, and the artwork of Kehinde Wiley and Nelson Makamo in order to begin gauging the vibrant depth of being African. The intention being to make oneself aware of who we are, of Africa and its African qualities.
We are rich in stories waiting to be uncovered. I believe Africans should focus on their own voice, and African stories being told by old and young Africans, as much of our history has been told for us.
What themes are you exploring with your work at the moment?
My work currently deals with self-love and the relationship we share with water and our hair as Africans. Our hair forms part of our identity as Africans, water forms part of us as beings, thus both are physically and metaphysically tethered to our vision of self.
How big is the role that hair plays in our identity as Africans?
Hair for us as Africans is a power tool. We have used it to resist oppression and to distinguish ourselves, our cultures and our mood. The texture, colour and forms are uniquely African; it’s our voice.
We are able to manifest thoughts through our hair; to connect to each other. It connects to our subconscious and thus forms part of our dreams and identity. Hair is aspirational and a statement for Africans as a result.
Which artists or creatives have influenced or inspired your creative process?
Definitely, the music of Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def) and Fela Kuti, and Credo Mutwa’s African symbolism and knowledge. They are all incredible storytellers. I love the visual art of Harmonia Rosales and James Jean. Their subjects, reimaginings and scale of work inspire my own career as a storyteller and artist.
Where can people find your work?
On Instagram @mark_draws and at The Moral Kiosk in Melville, Johannesburg.