#LLAInterview with Sharon Atang: Telling African Stories with Art

 

Tell us about yourself.

I live, eat and breathe ART!
I am the Founder and Managing Director of an Art Gallery /Creative Hub called The Space Botswana ” in Maun. I am a Multidisciplinary Artist, Gallerist, and Filmmaker and have an Associate Degree in Creative Multimedia from Limkokwing University of Creative Arts and Technology. I own a Multimedia production company Lipstick and Dust (Pty) Ltd. In addition, I am currently studying at Sothebys Institute of Art  “Running A Contemporary Gallery” 2022

I exhibited my paintings in Namibia in 2018 and Botswana from 2014 -2021. I am the regional winner of the Photography section’s annual Presidents’ Day competition. I have worked with local safari and international companies such as Conservation International, GIZ, and USAID to produce short impact films in Rwanda, Angola, Namibia and Botswana. I have also been on several publications with her Art and Conservation awareness. I have attained The Space Botswana accreditation from Connect Hubs 2.0 by the British Council in Johannesburg, South Africa.

With my strong journalism skills, I am also Public Relations Officer for Okavango Artists Association, where I volunteer to educate other artists around the region on professionalism and entrepreneurship.

I was involved in the Ngamiland Creative Network Project and 2020-2021, where I facilitated Artists Creative Block during the Covid-19 Pandemic and how to solve it. This project is based strictly on creatives around ngamiland and collecting data and artists’ livelihoods.

I have been running an Art Therapy and Creativity Workshop from July -August 2022 for Bana ba Letsatsi Orphanage and Rehabilitation Centre in Maun.

I continue to innovate, educate my community about Art, Creative Business, and constantly learn from my experiences.

 

Your gallery, The Space Botswana, uses Art to tell African stories like no other. How did your relationship with Art start, and what led to The Space?

My father used to photograph my cousins and me while we were children. I had never paid much attention that he was using a camera, being his medium of art and expressing his creativity. When I enrolled on primary school, using crayons and coloured pencils was my favourite thing to do and going into High school showed me other types of Art I could explore. I was always that kid with amazing handwriting,  drawings, and doodles in their books and even on my arms. It was more of self-expression and therapy for me.

Being a teenager is so difficult (Lol)! However, I knew exactly what I wanted to do when I got to university, Creative Multimedia”. This course covered a  whole lot of interesting modules.

During my University days, I visited local museums and did anything to do Art. I found that we did not have numerous facilities or Art Galleries to exhibit our work, and that’s what led to The Space. By creating a space that is inclusive, and informative while creating opportunities and networking for Artists.

 

During your journey so far, what situation has made you feel the most accomplished?

 

There are a few, but the one right now is me studying online at Sotheby’s Institute of Art (London /New York ). I am studying the course Running A Contemporary Gallery, all self-sponsored. I strive to put our country, Botswana, on the world map while educating myself to the fullest of my potential.

 

Tell us, which art displayed in your gallery speaks to you the most and why?

 

I am torn apart answering this; every piece in my Art Gallery has a unique story, including some of my paintings. Therefore, they all speak to me! Reasons why they are all handpicked and selected for quality and storytelling.

 

Your journey so far is not just exciting but also very inspiring. What challenges did you face on the way, and how did you overcome those challenges?

 

The challenges I faced were little to no support from the local community and Nation.  Art Education in our country has limited existence and market of fine art in all perspectives. The corporates to the individuals who want to negotiate prices for artworks. I am overcoming these challenges by Educating myself and the local community about the importance of art in our lives.

In addition, I recently held an Art Therapy and Creativity Training for a local NGO/ Rehabilitation Center and collaborated for an Art talk with an International Art Therapist from the United Kingdom.

 

What is the Art industry like for African women, and what opportunities exist for us?

 

We have amazing women changing the narrative in the art world, especially African Women. Stories and challenges that build us to show up and show off Africa! With that said, it is difficult for African women to acquire opportunities and positions, but that makes some of us push and work even harder for our professions to be recognised while also empowering and changing the economic landscape in our countries. To not be defined by Gender but by the impact we bring to our communities.

What’s next for The Space?

 

Going online and internationally, hopeful that one day we will have The Space in one of the big Cities in the world while exhibiting and advocating for African Artists, especially Female Visual Artists from Botswana and Africa. We will be hosting more exhibitions and attending Art Fairs and Biennales worldwide.

What would you say to your younger self?

 

I always find this question to trigger me because every time I think of it, many reflections and memories come rolling back. It is a good thing. However, it has to be PATIENCE! Be patient and know that HE is God!

 

This interview has been edited for clarity purposes.

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