Art is believed to be something for men: interview with Filipus Sheehama, lecturer at the Katutura College of the arts. to be.
Article Type: Interview
Subject: Artists
Author: Lorbeer, Naana
Pub Date: 09/01/2011
Publication: Name: Sister Namibia Publisher: Sister Namibia Audience: Academic; General Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Social sciences; Women's issues/gender studies Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2011 Sister Namibia ISSN: 1026-9126
Issue: Date: Sept-Dec, 2011 Source Volume: 23 Source Issue: 3
Persons: Named Person: Sheehama, Filipus
Geographic: Geographic Scope: Namibia Geographic Code: 6NAMI Namibia
Accession Number: 278172138
Full Text: Filipus Sheehama comes from a village in the north, Omthitu Gwonyama. As a child already he liked sign writing and graphic design, and therefore later went to Windhoek, where he met Professor Herklaas Viljoen from the Visual Arts Department at the University of Namibia University. He passed a degree in Fine Art and is now busy with his Masters. He has worked with different materials and techniques such as textiles, linocut and other printing techniques.

What made you like art?

I always liked sign writing and drawings. I think that I have this talent to bring things out. My parents used to make storage baskets, but I was not too much interested in that. When as a boy we used to look after the cattle, I made a lot of figures and animals out of clay and I realized much later that this was art. When I started to work with clay at university, I realized that I had done this before as a boy and it was easy for me to handle the clay.

Is being an artist in Namibia different in comparison to other countries?

Yes, there are big differences; if you are traveling you see it. Here in Namibia our population is small and most people do not really understand art. Also only few people promote the arts. In other countries, art is like a celebration of cultures. And in their museums you find art objects that reflect the background of the people.

How can art mobilize people? Do you see art as a form of activism?

If you look at art today, people are focusing on people, they are working with them and want to make a statement on how they feel. For example, I wanted to explore the concept of poverty. How could I find an approach to that? Then I saw people searching in rubbish bins for food and collecting dumped food, food that was expired. So as an artist, I used the image of expired food to make a statement about poverty, and I connect this to those artists who are poor and cannot afford material for their artwork, and so are using plastic bags that others throw away. An artist in Mozambique, for example, collects weapons, makes chairs with them and gives these artworks interesting titles; this makes people aware of the suffering during the war.

Can art do something about issues like violence against women?

I have not seen artists really focusing on this topic at the College. But it can be done. I myself have done some works on the theme of women, like a picture of a suffering woman with her children during the war and about domestic abuse - to make people understand.

Are women and men artists accepted and seen in different ways by society?

Yes, and this is based on beliefs. In the college more men are studying fine art than women, because in our society, art is believed to be something for men, while textiles and fashion is for women, something that they can do. Very few men take fashion as a major subject, and few women take sculpture as a major, because it is believed that men are stronger and can lift up the stones and wood to carve - which is not true.

What do you recommend to young women and men who want to be an artist?

They have to believe in themselves, be hard workers and willing to put in a lot of effort. People think, for art you only need to paint or draw. But art includes theory, you also, need to express yourself and speak about art.

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