The prestigious competition, now in its fifth year, challenges artists to create amazing modern art and design pieces using concrete as their medium. The winners were announced at a gala event hosted at the University of Johannesburg’s Art Gallery on 11 April.
Cow’s winning entry, entitled Tribe, is a sculptural costume from PPC cement, wool and faux leather. Asked to explain the work, she says: “I am inspired by how many millennials are redefining and recreating their cultures without fear. The artwork Tribe is a traditional attire for an Afro-futuristic tribe that holds dear the history of its origin tribe, but is not afraid to adapt and change customs that can be changed,” she adds.
The work earned her R50 000.
“I didn’t expect to win and at the last minute before handing in the work even contemplated taking it back home,” she says.
Looking at her CV, Cow is certainly one of the Faculty of the Arts’ most promising students in recent years. Two of her sculptures of notable South Africans stand tall at public spaces (ANC stalwarts Francis Baard at the National Heritage Monument and OR Tambo at the OR Tambo International Airport). Not bad for someone aged only 24.
Cow’s M Tech thesis is inspired by the nickname (Cow) she gave herself, and which she often has to explain.
“I find that the response when I introduce myself as Cow to most white
people is of shock and embarrassment in thinking they might offend me. I have
to convince them that this is a preferred name. In contrast, most black people
who hear the name react immediately using the various vernacular versions of it,
such as ‘kgomo’ or ‘inkomo’. Investigating and comparing differing
interpretations of a term/phenomenon can enrich cultural insights, therefore
the aim of my study is to investigate Western connotations of the cow and how
those could differ from the African associations of the term, specifically from
a black feminist perspective,” she concludes.