Fine Art lecturer gets the DST Women in Science Award nod

25 Aug 2017 - 10:30

Dr Nomusa Makhubu

Michaelis School of Fine Art senior lecturer, Dr Nomusa Makhubu, has been named as the First Runner Up for the Distinguished Young Woman Scientist, Humanities and Social Sciences award category of the 2017 Department of Science and Technology’s (DST) South African Women in Science Awards (WISA).

The WISA are awarded annually to reward scientific excellence by women researchers.

“Winning this award as a runner-up is exciting and encouraging, especially in a field that has not been popular among young people in South Africa,” said Makhubu. “It positions art history as a field of study with so much potential for innovative and critical thinking about the socio-political facing us today. The arts shape the way people think about their history, their current socio-economic conditions, their social relations, and desires.”

Makhubu explained that the WISA recognition came at an opportune time when many South Africans are asking difficult questions about art, intricate race-gender identities and heritage which require a new generation of researchers.

“In South Africa today we find ourselves faced with hard-hitting questions regarding fast-changing political dynamics in creative practice, public heritage and the politics of representation in postcolonial cities,” she said.

“It has become important to develop young art historians to generate new theoretical and practical approaches to the kinds of creative practices that would otherwise be overlooked in traditional art history but are nonetheless significant in understanding the current social dynamics and political climate.”

Makhubu plans to use the award to lay the groundwork for a project titled Creative Knowledge Resources which seeks to facilitate accessible creative knowledge exchange.

Her most recent research project, Art Interventionism and Social Engagement in African Visual Art, interrogates “changing conceptions of public space, art and popular culture as social engagement, collective action, and (artistic) citizenship in African cities”. The methodological approach in this project is driven by active engagement and dialogue.

“This project focuses on artists whose work poses critical questions about the political role of art (as means of mediating conceptualizations of gender, race and class) in decolonial Africa,” said Makhubu.

“It is envisaged as an academic project through which postgraduate students can be mentored and active collaboration with scholars from different parts of the continent can be established through workshops, seminars and active engagement in various events”.

She has realized her key research interests in African art, popular culture, photography, interventionism and socially engaged art through creative work, curated exhibitions and articles. 

Makhubu obtained a Bachelor of Fine Art, Masters and PhD degrees from Rhodes University, she joined the Michealis School of Fine Art in January of 2014 where she currently lectures in Art History.

Makhubu has just started a five-month tenure at Harvard University’s W.E.B Du Bois Research Institute as part of the Harvard-UCT Mandela Fellowship designed to strengthen research relations between the University of Cape Town and Harvard University.