"You're so beautiful for a black girl." by Manyaku Mashilo
“You’re so beautiful for a black girl”.
Our experience of past and present depends on the emotion we succumb to when we visualize pleasant or unpleasant events. Digging and scrapping through emotions brought to the surface by past struggles of being what was deemed “BEAUTIFUL” as a black South African rural girl relocating and having to grow up in an all white , western environment . The experience of having to mimic a certain way of appearance and behavior differed greatly from where I grew up(Limpopo), which waged battles of beauty and what that was suppose to look like opposed to what I looked like. Growing up where your color, tradition and way of naturally being was suppressed by everyone who wanted you to survive, including yourself. In my work I have used negative space to represent the two opposing worlds of black and white ‘beauty’. The negative spaces structuring what is the past and what has moulded my appearance and character thus far. The white spaces discuss the western influence in my African adornment and what a great influence it has been. The black space representing the heritage and color that is me, the past and the present. These series of self portraits speaks to the esthetic of beauty and what that means for me as a black woman in a western world. This is the experience of my identity and how that has been moulded by two contrasting worlds.
Born in Limpopo Province, in 1991, Manyaku Mashilo is a self taught visual artist and illustrator who has passionately seeked out the observation of human anatomy and its intricacies . This resulted in a key interest with visual documentation of not only the human form but specifically the human face. In time this has led her to develop a passion for traditional portrait drawing which takes on an array of projected identities through fusing negative space, detailed pencil and ink work.