Kimathi Mafafo’s practice in painting and embroidery work is a raw articulation of twomediums that have embodied the Black woman and/or female’s body within the tradition ofwoman’s work. This woman’s work I suggest is informed by how the approach to her subjectmatter alludes to a disclosure of transgressions of the past, the present and future. In these,she creates a tension between becoming and being, concealing and revealing, retreatingand showing up, all of which are an embodiment of the arduous negotiations Black womenhave to make in navigating their existence in society.
In her recent work there is a sense of becoming evidently marked through a gradualtransition of the materiality of the work; its move from two dimensionality to more threedimensional work. Previously it seems two dimensionality was a critical integrant ofpresenting the illusion of concealing and revealing femininity in Mafafo’s work and hernavigation through Black womanhood. However, this oscillation appears to have sinceevolved into a more strategic placement of an artistic language that starts to articulate akind of woman’s work that is specific to the condition of being a Black woman and/orfemale. This is not to make the Black woman and/or female condition seem exceptional toother women or women of colour, or timid as she is sometimes depicted in Mafafo’s work,but rather as an important symbol of how societal structures have marginalised,dehumanised and disenfranchised certain women. By a kind of woman’s work, I am not onlysuggesting that Mafafo’s artistic repertoire is part of a lexicon of creative work done by Black women as a vehicle towards a cathartic activity, but also one that is specific to the condition of being Black and a woman and/or female. It is also important to note that woman’s work does not make a gender distinction between work that man do as opposed to that which women do, rather it is referring to how there is a particular kind of intellectual meditative state of being that requires making certain kind of work through a creative process that women have pioneered. --"This Woman’s Work: a brief reading of Kimathi Mafafo’s artwork", Dr Same Mdluli – artist, arts writer and historian