Zizipho Poswa is a Cape Town-based sculptural artist whose large-scale, hand-coiled sculptures are bold declarations of African womanhood. Born in 1979 in the town of Mthatha, Poswa was raised in the nearby village of Holela in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. She went on to study surface design and graduated from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. In 2005, she and fellow ceramicist Andile Dyalvane opened their studio, Imiso (meaning "tomorrow") Ceramics. Poswa’s work for Southern Guild explores her personal experience and heritage in monumental sculptural pieces. Her debut solo, iLobola, comprised 12 ceramic and bronze sculptures paying homage to the spiritual offering at the heart of the ancient African custom of lobola, or bride-wealth – the cow. Her second solo, uBuhle boKhokho (Beauty of Our Ancestors), drew inspiration from the elaborate art of hairstyling practised by Black women across the African continent and diaspora. The series of 24 monumental ceramic and bronze sculptures was accompanied by a series of photographic portraits of the artist, who collaborated with a hair stylist to recreate some of the most iconic styles on herself. Poswa’s third solo exhibition – her debut presentation in the United States – opened in Tribeca, New York City at Lee Mindel’s Galerie56 in May, 2023. iiNtsika zeSizwe (The Pillars of the Nation) featured Poswa’s first body of all-bronze sculptural forms. With their exuberant shapes and resplendent patinas, these sculptures further expanded on Poswa’s thematic interest of the traditional act of umthwalo. For the exhibition, Poswa journeyed to her home village of Holela to photograph a series of striking portraits embodying this traditional practice. The seven sculptural works elevate to heroic status the daily rituals carried out by African women across the continent. Poswa’s work is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), Philadelphia Museum of Art and the LOEWE Foundation, as well as important private and corporate collections around the world.
Exhibited at Design Miami/ 2023 Each ceramic form in 'iiNtsika zeSizwe', Pillars of the Nation has been named after a significant woman from Zizipho Poswa’s home village of Holela in rural Eastern Cape, South Africa. The titles have been formed by blending the Xhosa term ‘Mam’, meaning ‘mother’, and the respective name of each honoured woman. The body of work pays intimate homage to the women within the artist’s extended community, the mothers, sisters, providers, healers and caretakers. Honouring another local woman, the name 'Sayini' means trace or presence. The work’s form represents a bundle of sticks. Firewood is collected from the village’s nearby forest to be used in the cooking of the community’s shared food. The gathering of wood is one of the most physically demanding tasks for the local women. The women work sustainably, only harvesting wood from fallen or dead trees. The chore requires numerous hands, offering the opportunity for coming together, exchange, problem-solving and connection amongst the village’s women.
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