For The People

SA meets USA in NC Artlit Exhibition

Derrick Bell

Born in Cincinnati, Ohio in the United States of America, Derrick Bell’s craft is painting and making furniture. Like in any art, storytelling is an important part of his practice, paying particular reference to African American church themes, African art, poetry and music. He is drawn to the interplay between the past and present. These aspects are what the artist uses to illustrate his perspectives, ideologies and feelings in his art. A positive self-image for human beings and the process of preserving the cultural narrative and experiences is fundamental to his work, “I am particularly taken by the African American culture, with its rich creativity and improvisational zeal,” says Bell.

The visual artist says that his work seeks to question, explore and expose experiences, causes, effects and the momentary variables that shape people’s daily lives. He draws from his interest in the study of human behaviour, the psychological and emotional impact it has on society, notably the people of the African diaspora. He sees himself as a social archivist who explores the controversies and ironies of the contemporary social and racial politics.

His hunger to explore Africa and its people will be made a reality soon as he is part of the group of artists that will be exhibiting at the ArtLit Exhibition which is a segment of the Northern Cape Writers Festival in collaboration with the William Humphreys Art Gallery and Sol – Plaatje University.

The Exhibition will be opening on the 8th of October 2019 and will run up until Mid-December 2019, “I hope to learn, build relationships and be inspired by other artists in South Africa. It will be the first time I will go out of the country, and I am extremely excited and humbled to be part of the project. I grew up hearing about South Africa and to actually be able to go there is truly a blessing,” says the eager painter.

Besides being a visual artist, Derrick Bell’s passion also lays in teaching art as he is the departmental head at a school in Oakland, California where he teaches beginners, intermediate, and advanced art at a middle school. His interest in teaching was inspired by his mother who was also a teacher. “My goal is to continue to educate my students about the different art cultures, movements, and techniques. Art changes lives and perspectives and it can help to give a voice to the voiceless. I teach them to respect art and utilise the skills that they acquire through art to give back to their communities,” he commented.

The American painter works from his own studio in Oakland and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Studio Art from Morehouse College in Atlanta and a Master of Arts degree in Art Education obtained from Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati, Ohio. “I have spent my entire career working to perfect my expertise as a visual artist and as an educator in multiple mediums. Exploring other mediums made me realise that each has its own distinctive characteristics and its own matchless capacity to give my work a voice,” says the artist.

He has exhibited his work at the Impact Hub, Oakland, Group Show, Richmond Art Centre, The Art of Living Black, Paschal-Hunter Gallery, The Cursed Crown We Detest, Behringer Crawford Museum, Covington, FreshART, New York Dance and Movement and the Solo Show.

Xolani Kitsi

  1. Most people have heard the phrase “The healing power of art”, some testimonies have circulated the mass media but how true is the fact that art can heal the world? Art may not be able to heal people physically but scientists have alluded that the appreciation of creativity can boost the immune system. Once the immune system is boosted it could improve one’s mood. Xolani Kitsi’s work strives to communicate and promote love and humanity, “If we can love one another no matter if we know each other or not, then there will be less violence and crime in the world and less bad things would happen to people”. Evidently, the artist wants to heal the world through his work.

Xolani is a very active member in his community and manages the Masakhane Art Centre. He is a painter, musician and crafter. He has done paintings for the legendary soccer player Ruben Cloeté and the South African musician Emtee.

Born in Namibia, the 21 year old artist who is now based in Upington was raised by his maternal grandmother whom he says played a loving and supportive role as she took him under her wing just after his mother’s passing. “The love and support I received from my grandmother really pulled me through some hardships, she is the one person that always encouraged me to follow my dreams and work hard at achieving them,” says Xolani as he remembers what is what like growing up.

Loyiso Mkhize is one of the artists that Xolani is influenced by, among others. When asked what he does for inspiration he says that the pleasure of knowing that he is bringing something to life through his artwork is all the inspiration he needs, “I also listen to music and read a lot that also plays a role in me getting concepts and ideas for my artwork and enables me to stay stirred up to work” he expressed assuredly.

The young artist will be one of the selected artists who will exhibit their work at the International ArtLit Exhibition, a segment under the Northern Cape Writers Festival which will take place in early October, 2019. The festival is an initiative of the Northern Cape Department of Sports, Arts and Culture (DSAC) in collaboration with the Sol – Plaatje University (SPU) and William Humphreys Art Gallery (WHAG). His exhibition will specifically showcase the works of South African writer, Es’kia Mphahlele particularly her book titled, Down Second Avenue, which is a memoir that narrates his experiences of what is was like living in South Africa during the apartheid years.

The curator of the exhibition, Jowhari Trahan says that when she arrived at the artist’s studio, her heart sank when she saw Xolani who was in his element, with music playing in the background and hanging out with some friends, “I saw a young artist sharing his expression with the world. Xolani represents so many different perspectives, he represents youth expression, courage and strength. His passion and work shows just how important it is for society to support children and young adults with their art and expression. Xolani’s work is truly amazing as it expresses his own experiences and his view of the world surrounding him. I am honoured to have him on our team,” Jowhari proudly added.

When asked what sparked his passion for the arts he says that it all started when he was a young boy. “Whenever I went to the park in my hometown in Namibia I would see other street vendors showcasing and selling their art, this inspired me so much and I knew right there and then that painting is what I wanted to do and so one day I just started painting,” he said.

The artist says that what set him apart from other artists is the fact he draws from his own experiences and paints ideas that come from his mind, thus he knows that his art is the only one of his kind, “I’m not trying to be boastful,” he says jokingly.

Artwork by Derrick Bell
Artwork by Xolani Kitsi

Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.