Nobody is disabled: artist

Bulawayo based artist Nompilo Nkomo captivates the hearts, minds and spirits of anyone who has bothered to visit her at the National Gallery where she exhibits her works.

Nompilo Nkomo using her feet to do her paintings.
Nompilo Nkomo using her feet to do her paintings.

What is unique and amazing about Nkomo, 33, is that she does not have the use of her arms, and therefore uses her feet to produce all her work. She also depends on her feet to do other things including writing and phoning on her cell phone. “I was born like this. Both my parents passed away and I live with my aunt in Lobengula. I survive through my paintings. Unlike some other disabled persons, I try very much to be as self-reliant as possible. I only seek assistance in areas where I have serious limitations,” said the artist. Nkomo is not only talented and progressive, she is also a strong activist for physically challenged people. “There is no one who is disabled. People label me a disabled person – yet I have managed to create beautiful works which the so-called “able bodied” people cannot do. Dynamite, they say comes in small packages,” she said. Nkomo’s paintings capture the diverse realities of people’s experiences and encounters with religion, politics, the economy, food, and love and gender issues.

“I mainly do mosaic collage, water colouring, mono print and Batik. My paintings depict people’s everyday experiences. My work speaks for the poor, the physically challenged and the rich,” she said.

Nkomo spent her early childhood days in Esgodini. Her mother died while she was very young and her grandmother took the responsibility to look after her. The National Council of Disabled Persons helped her to enrol for a painting course at Danhiko School in Harare and at Mzilikazi Art and Craft Centre in Bulawayo from 2003 to 2006. Upon completion of her course in 2006, Nkomo was awarded a grant by Lilian Fonds on the recommendation of NCDPZ to embark on a Visual Arts programme.

In October 2006, the National Gallery of Bulawayo, through its outreach programme, helped to provide materials and give her the opportinity to exhibit her work through the Sabona Sales shop and other local markets. Nkomo bemoaned the dwindling number of both local and foreign buyers in the country.

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