Interviews About Bev Butkow
South Africa | Johannesburg | 28.12.2020
Margaret Njeri Ngigi is a young artist from Nairobi, Kenya, better know as Sherie, who started since a very young producing art, using photography and filmmaking practice. Her principal subjects are women, with which she tries to reflect precisely on the problems of being a woman, and another topic she holds dearly is mental illness.
AAAA: Why and when did you start to create art?
MNN: I have been a photographer for the last five years, but I’ve been an artist at heart almost all my life. I always wanted to join the Media industry when I was younger and I thought I would end up doing a Journalism career, as I didn’t know that one could pursue photography or art as a career.
In 2015 while I was studying for my diploma in fine art at Kenyatta University, I took a three months photography training course on my first Long holiday. I was looking for a way of killing time during the three months holiday and so I thought photography can be a hobby I could cultivate, but I discovered a whole new world that I never knew existed. I learned basic photography skills and practiced a lot with shooting my friends and family.
I fell in love with portraiture and I started looking at photography as a medium that I could use to express myself. It’s by practicing photography that I discovered another skill of filmmaking. I finished my diploma in art at Kenyatta University and in 2018 joined The United States International University of Africa to pursue my bachelor’s degree in film. I have an eye for set design and creative directing in film.
AAAA: Tell us something that you have done that makes you proud of and what is the next goal you are pursuing.
MNN: Being recognized as one of the top ten emerging photographers during the Photo London fair 2020, was one of my most proud moments.
My work has been and is still a reflection of the personal journey that I’m taking into womanhood and as I continue to figure that out and wrap my head around the realities of what it means to be a woman in my society, I intend to continue working on my Mke Mwema photo series. In the process asking myself questions such as, what kind of woman do I want to be in the future? Married or not married? What options society is offering me? What has influenced the choices of the women before me? And so on. Altogether I’m still a student and I’m working towards finishing my Bachelor in film production and directing.
AAAA: How would you describe your experience of being a female photographer in the art sector?
MNN: My experience in the art sector as a female photographer has come with its fair share of challenges, the industry is still very male-dominated. While I was starting out, I struggled to be taken seriously with my medium and there weren’t really a lot of women photographers to look up to or use as blueprints, which made it even harder for me to navigate the art sector. It is through the help and guidance of amazing artists such as James Muruiuki, Onyis Martin, Beatrice Wanjiku, curators such as Thadde Tewa that have been able to hold my hand and help me grow as an artist. I am deeply inspired by the efforts of fellow women photographers such as Polly Irungu the founder of Black Women Photograph, an organization that aims to see Black women photographers receive proper recognition, and most importantly, get hired. Sarah Waiswa is also doing an incredible job in running, African Women in Photography, an organization/community dedicated to elevating and celebrating the work of women and non-binary photographers from Africa.
About Margaret Ngigi is part of the column “Women” dedicated to the women involved in the art scene on and about the African continent.
The aim of the column is to give space to women – in or connected – to the continent’s art scene. A space in which experiences, opinions and realities can be read and loved by everyone, focused on women and their empowerment.
If you know of any woman that should take part please invite her to get in touch. Thank you, we appreciate your contribution.