UNLEASHING LERATO’S CREATIVE MIND
Lerato Honde’s “Seasons” is a prime example of overcoming the frustration that comes with trying to turn a creative idea into something tangible. With a sketchbook where she draws most of her ideas as a way of visualizing her creative thoughts and project ideas, Lerato begun “Seasons” nearly three years ago in October, during the final semester of her first year at university. As a first-time architecture student, she became more comfortable with the technicalities that came with architectural representation. Her initial conceptual thoughts and daily practice of drawing led to her capturing accurate representations of space.
But why is “hair’ the central theme of “Seasons”? By drawing women doing their hair, Lerato captures the beauty and versatility of African hair. Having grown up around bold, beautiful African women who would always change their hairstyles, she found that they would wear each style with confidence and authenticity. Going to the salon feels like going to a piazza or public place in contemporary African spaces, where conversations take place in ways they wouldn’t in the outside world. Braiding, weaving, coloring, twisting and embellishing are some of the different ways of styling hair; with African women wearing their hair as an expression of themselves – a craft, that is how Lerato views the topic of hair.
Lerato would describe her art as multifaceted. She likes to incorporate all sorts of mediums into her work, with the purpose of prioritizing the energy and messages she seeks to portray. Its been a journey of self-discovery, she says. Adding that her artwork is a result of introspection where she is in tune with her experiences and emotions, connecting with people who resonate with her experiences and others from different backgrounds who are fascinated by it. Ultimately, she creates art that inspires conversation. The feedback she gets regarding how her work makes other people feel is always an interesting part of her artistic experience, with some coming up with a completely different interpretation of it. When she creates, she does not alter or tone down her work for validation, she seeks to learn through her work and inspire others to self-reflect.
“I have been creating for as long as I can remember, she muses. Her earliest memory from four years old was drawing and singing with her father. Lake visits inspired her mind to start to create art that transcends the mere representation of an object. From there, she decided to pursue art class in primary and secondary school, making the conscious decision to continually honor her skill and craft through planning and seeing her projects through even after she was no longer taking art classes in high school.
She describes herself as a visual learner who enjoys exploring different imaginative concepts by creating more than just drawings. Giving herself time and space to experiment and make mistakes in order to achieve what she perceives to be the best result, Lerato found this gives her the most satisfaction after having explores dance and music as a kid. Thus, the experimentation that comes with hairstyling reminded her of the freedom and exploration she has when trying new artistic techniques and materials. Initially, she had not intended to have a whole series of animations but it was such a therapeutic process she kept creating more. Her friends became muses, sharing with Lerato videos of themselves styling their hair, who would then pause the video at different times to capture the still image she would be looking for. Sometimes, she would choose to depict high movement by pausing the video where there is a lot of movement. Other times, she would be looking for something still and detailed, scribbling the images in pencil and pen, being sporadic with some and more controlled with others.
She attributes her studies in Architecture as having an influence on her representation techniques and her perception of aesthetics. Lerato developed the ability to always try to find purpose through creative exploration, discovering that a simple diagram with a complex meaning held more value than an elaborate drawing with no context or purpose. To her, “Seasons” is a product of her engagement with art and architecture. One project from her first year of university involved the class being split into groups with the requirement to capture the abstract stages of their design for a community center through film. Her group explored animation as a medium and produced a film; quite an involving process. To take a break from all the rules of representation, Lerato would turn to her scribbles as a way of releasing and escaping tense situations, a habit of hers that calms her. Yet this too required a high level of discipline which forced her to take her artwork seriously.
One big lesson for her through the creative process of “Seasons” was having patience with herself. When she was setting up for the art exhibition at La Galleria at Old Mall in Lilongwe, she came across a drawing she did for the setup of the final exhibition in December 2016. She was amazed at how it came to life, regardless of challenges, through focus and staying grounded by the constant reminder of why she creates. She believes that anyone with a talent or gift for the world has a purpose that is greater than themselves. Her art portrays messages of authenticity and self-love which she hopes will inspire other people from different backgrounds to appreciate themselves and connect with their talents.