I read that you are part Navajo, which I assume is pretty rare in South Africa. Is there some value in being in that “other” category in a country where race has been so important historically? (And please forgive me if I’m totally off.)
I am definitely “other”—my South African passport literally categorizes me as “Other Coloured.” And no, I don’t think there is value in that, no matter where you live. People are drawn to and feel comfortable with people who look like and speak like themselves. Being an anomaly has been a lifelong lesson in self-sufficiency, creating my own sense of belonging, and learning to enjoy solitude. I am, however, fortunate to have some very special friends—just a small handful—because being an artist, I tend to want to spend a lot of time alone. Friends who stick around are OK with long absences, long phone calls, and low-maintenance friendships.
Following up on that: Your black figures (your figures painted in solid or almost solid black) … one could look at these images as negating or omitting skin color altogether, saying skin color isn’t part of the narrative. Or one could go the exact opposite direction and say, no, these are clearly black people. Do you have a preferred interpretation?
That’s a lovely question. Yes to both.
In some instances the figure is definitely a black woman in features, but in other works she is a silhouette, and not necessarily of a black woman. She is then a symbol of the Feminine Energy, the creative potential, and the Soul or the Astral Body.
My mixed-race heritage made me a target for racism in the 70s South Africa as a school student in an all-white primary school. But I had white sisters and a white mother. So, the identity of myself as “black” didn’t make sense to me. Not knowing my black father added to this identity confusion. I think that perhaps in a very personal way, the black figure symbolizes the missing black heritage that was left behind in the United States, when my mother moved us to South Africa as a single parent. I’m claiming and expressing that far removed culture as part of my psyche through these representations, but also infusing it with a South African ethos.
Thank you for that answer. One last question. Do you have any self-care or spiritual practices that work particularly well for you?
Yes. I have meditated for two and a half hours daily since I was 19 (I turn 52 in December). I walk or dance and do yoga. I try to eat lightly and mostly a whole food, vegetarian diet. I am very picky about what I spend my attention on, whether its conversation, movies, books, or thoughts—as these affect my moods, my sleep, and ultimately what I create.