Stephanie Mzee has taken on visual art as a cultural statement.
She is the brains behind “Where is the ‘ME’ in Media?”, a photography and visual arts project which questions the representation of black women in popular media.
The South African-based, Kenyan’s PAPERCUT series interrogates the representation of black women in media. For Mzee the visual arts hold the key to connecting people, spurring engagement and catalysing positive change.
She found herself in front of the camera lens with Wanda Banda, a model and friend she has collaborated with in the past. With their dark skin and hair covered in newspaper, each frame stands as a symbol of how black women’s bodies and stories have been seized by popular culture to portray the most profitable version.
Her work has been exhibited at the Erdmann Contemporary Gallery in Cape Town, to create awareness of the need for appropriate representation of black women in the media. In 2016, her work was exhibited at the prestigious Design Indaba and the acclaimed Youngblood Gallery.
Mzee’s journey has not been easy, there was a time when she had no camera and had to beg and borrow equipment from anyone who would loan it to her just to complete her projects. “I do not take no for an answer when it comes to my vision,” she said.
Today she speaks boldly through visual art about the social injustices experienced by women across borders and as an advocate for a better narrative of black women’s stories in the media.
In the next five years, she plans to launch an annual exhibition to bring people together to share her passion for social justice and development in Africa.