MY STORY| Living with albinism inspired me to create beautiful art

Winford Hunter
Athenkosi Kwinana got to showcase her work at this year's Investec Cape Town Art Fair. (PHOTO: Berman Contemporary)

Athenkosi Kwinana obtained to showcase her operate at this year’s Investec Cape City Artwork Truthful. (Image: Berman Up to date)&#13

Athenkosi Kwinana from Corana in Mthatha, Eastern Cape, put in most of her childhood stunned by the stigma and stereotypes hooked up to albinism, primarily from these exterior of her property. 

The 27-yr-old’s enthusiasm for visible artwork began when she was a tiny female and struggled to observe Television because of her bad vision, induced by albinism.

Albinism is a genetic ailment that affects the body’s skill to generate melanin, the pigment that colours pores and skin, hair and eyes. 

For Athenkosi, the pastime she made use of as an escape grew to become a passion, and her do the job was not long ago showcased at the Cape City Art Good.

She shares her tale with YOU.


She says she utilized art to prevent her being various, now she’s applying it to teach about albinism. (Photograph: Berman Modern)

“When I was expanding up, I struggled to look at Tv set, due to the fact of my very poor eyesight, so I’d stand right in front of it, blocking everyone’s perspective. My mother, Shumikazi Kwinana, decided to give me paper and a pen, and I’d draw to distract myself from watching Tv.

Even although I was surrounded by really like and aid, this produced me realise that I was distinct. Navigating my way outside home was really hard because I’d get odd reviews, but I understood the place to go and the place not to. 

I attended Dreamland Most important University, a non-racial university, and I’d conveniently get along with white youngsters since of my skin tone but the other children did not rather understand looking at a black child without melanin. 

Existence at college was terrific right up until the schoolday finished. My mates would go home but I’d remain driving at aftercare, and I’d generally truly feel isolated and different because most of the young children under no circumstances needed to engage in with me, or even contact me.

Drawing was my only close friend, so I’d sit in the corner with my paper and a box of crayons and draw. 


She states she aims to constructively reimagine the representation of Albinism in South African black communities, in African up to date art. (Photograph: Berman Up to date)

I educated myself to draw from a younger age, even even though I’m visually challenged. Folks seem to be to come across it interesting that I only use my glasses to zoom in on items from a distance. 

Art was my escape and therapy when I was a boy or girl, now I use it to teach and elevate recognition about albinism.

I’ve moved all over a lot. I went from Mthatha to East London, then Johannesburg, exactly where I concluded substantial faculty at Bryanston Significant School.

I’m glad we often lived in multi-racial neighborhoods exactly where people today were informed of the truth of albinism and didn’t believe the myths that some people perpetrate in black society.

I afterwards realised that the detest and stereotypes encompassing black men and women residing with albinism was a end result of miseducation and misconceptions. In standard black communities, men and women with albinism ended up often related with negative luck and identified as ‘freaks of nature’, and that’s why we have been subject to abuse.That is factually incorrect, of study course, and by my art I aim to transform how we’re represented.


Representation issues to Athenkosi and she’s representing herself via her function. (Image: Berman contemporary)

The arts and amusement market does not have a background of variety – we’re only starting up to get there now. When I grew up seeing Television set in the late 1990s, albinism was not represented, and you’d hardly at any time see actors and actresses with the issue.

The absence of illustration pushed me to discover distinctive drawing procedures so I could connect to the environment.

Browse Much more| MY Story | Drawing on tissue paper was not straightforward – now it is really my signature

I enrolled at Walter Sisulu College to review fine art and I’ve not long ago done my master’s in fantastic arts at the University of Johannesburg.

I’ve published investigation get the job done on residing with albinism in South Africa and the globe, and it is accessible at the utilized art section of Walter Sisulu University.


These are the artworks she offered at the Cape Town Art Fair, Blue (remaining) and iShumi. (Picture: Berman Modern day)

Shortly sufficient, I was observed by Berman Present-day, a Johannesburg-centered artwork gallery which promotes get the job done by nearby artists. They aided me implement for the Cape Town Art Reasonable so I could showcase my function.

Two of my artworks, Blue and iShumi, were offered at the honest.

I’ve also exhibited at the once-a-year summer months clearly show of Berman Modern day in Johannesburg Senses and Lenses, curated by Gcotyelwa Mashiqa the yearly wintertime display curated by Morgan Kunhardt or Berman Present-day and Alongside one another with East London Getting Albus: Reframing the Illustration of Individuals Dwelling with Albinism, at the Ann Bryant Gallery.


Athenkosi is grateful for the assistance gets from her sisters, Nangomso (still left) and Milani (correct), and mom Shumikazi. (Photograph: Berman Contemporary)

I’m happy to have had aid to do this from my mom and my two tiny sisters, Nangomso and Milani Kwinana.

I want my perform to be timeless and educational, when people today see my function it need to explain to a tale and educate them about the troubles.

My suggestions to folks residing with albinism is to consider pleasure in you and really like on your own the way you are.”


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