My Name is Afreekah and I Am an Artist – that is my mantra. My understanding of art is that it is the expression of everything. Our inner-child, at one point, naturally expressed everything freely and uniquely, but with time, that same child was relentlessly restrained and shamed whenever they were bold enough to ‘colour outside of the lines’. Conformity and uniformity became the graveyards for our innate creativity and our non-judging selves gradually became imprisoned by the boundaries designed by society to breed ‘non-threatening’ thinkers. For me, art is a tool to dismantle the impositions society conveniently places in my way as a creative.
Artists are subliminally encouraged to be meek and are almost expected to be slightly unconfident, even when they aren’t. Any display of confidence in your abilities as a creative can often unreasonably be mistaken for arrogance. My experience of navigating the nuances of summoning confidence and building my own self-esteem has led me to the realization that not affirming myself only stunts my artistic expression.
My first drawing that I believed resembled art was a doodle of ‘Rick Sanchez’ on the back of a file in August of 2018 – in my Intro to Law class at the University of Zimbabwe. One year later, my studio is still my bedroom, but last year, with the love, help and support of my family and friends, I hosted my first exhibition, ‘Dual Visionaries.’ All of the exhibited pieces were auctioned by the end of the evening and it felt amazing. That night remains surreal for me and I hold onto it to steady myself in what I know has been possible for me creatively so far.
If I were to summarize my newfound artistic consciousness it would be that –
‘My art is never too much or too little, too complex or too simple…My imagination is boundless and I owe it to myself to guard the integrity of my boundlessness against blind conformity and binding social constructs.’
My wish is to communicate, to the creatives and artists that our power lies in the knowledge of our worth.