Sunday, September 02, 2012

Elephants Against A Red Sky: African Heritage Inspires Visiting Artist

Detail: "Savannah Elephants" by Maungo Judy Seabenyane.

PLATTSBURGH CITY - Sept. 1, 2012

How did artist Maungo Seabenyane -- you can call her Judy -- who hails from Botswana end up here in Plattsburgh?

The Peace Corps.

It worked out this way: Adam Defayette, an attorney at Prisoner Legal Services in Plattsburgh, was visiting his father in Botswana.  Adam's father had decided to spend his retirement years as a Peace Corps volunteer.  During his visit Adam met Judy and suggested to her that she could have an art show back in his hometown.

Thus the latest ROTA exhibit, "The World Comes To Plattsburgh," which also features the works of Gharan Burton, a local artist originally from Dominica.

Judy's creations include paintings, beaded accessories (such as earrings and bags) and painted T-shirts.

Her work draws upon her Botswana-African heritage.  "Savannah Elephants" depicts three elephants -- apparently father, mother and child -- silhouetted against a bright red-tinted sky.  "Sun Burned Queen" provides a fascinating contrast between the stern expression of the subject with her intense blue head wrap and the vibrant rainbow colors drifting by in the background.

Artist Judy Seabenyane (right) discusses one of her paintings with a ROTA patron during the opening reception for the exhibit, "The World Comes To Plattsburgh."

Usually one expects an artist to have a creative interest since childhood but Judy ended up as one in a roundabout way.  She started to make her own clothing after finding what was available didn't quite match her needs.  Painting on cloth lead her to paint on canvas.  When it came to artistic expression, she was a late bloomer.

Judy learned about art on her own, no formal training.  She holds a BA degree in Archaeology/English from the University of Botswana.  (Of course, being self-taught, she has a DIY in Art.)  After college she was hoping to get a museum job but was placed on a waiting list.  So she became a teacher, working with children 7 to 8 years old.  She taught various subjects ranging from math to English to cultural studies to environmental science.

But now art has taken priority in her life.  When she returns to Botswana she plans to open a consignment shop for her work, becoming a full time artist.  Judy also plans to continue with her education here in the US, focusing on a graduate degree in art history.

Young art critic Lucy Conroy (left) points out to her mother Danielle why she likes the painting, "Village Huts," by Maungo Judy Seabenyane.

For more info about ROTA Gallery And Studios, email: rotagallery (at) gmail (dot) com.  ROTA, located at 50 Margaret Street, is usually open daily 12 Noon to 5 PM depending on the availability of volunteer staff.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Well written and with eloquence and truth. Thank you.