Incredible Women in Art: Maneo Mohale — I’m hella queer, and proudly so

Maneo Mohale is one of the most brilliant minds we’ve ever met. She is an arts journalist, writer, editor and a major LGBTQI advocate, who has written for prominent publications and has also created her own platform, The Talon.

Maneo uses her extraordinary talent to create a safe space for the LGBTQI community and black women; lending them a voice in order to share their own stories and experiences.

We had the amazing opportunity to pick Maneo’s brain and chat about all the things that move her.

How did you get into the art industry?

The Art industry is extremely broad and feels a little incongruous with what I do with most of my time, (which is write and edit), but I’ve been writing for as long as I remember.

I only entered seriously into the realm of arts journalism at university, when I co-founded an online student journalism platform called The Talon alongside an incredible team and editorial collective.

I was a writer and an editor for the publication, but I really enjoyed editing there.

Soon after, I dipped my toes in all kinds of creative and journalistic writing and then landed my Global Feminism Writing Fellowship with an American feminist organization called Bitch Media, which really skyrocketed by interest in smart and sexy arts journalism.

Since then, I’m really getting a feel for the media landscape, and I’m loving the art that I am exposed to by both editing talented arts writers and trying my pen at responding to the waves made in the South African and broader global arts industries as well.

The media landscape is made richer and more meaningful with our voices in it - @ManeoMohale Click To Tweet

As an advocate for the LGBTQI community, tell us about what you do, including your work with Platform Magazine

I think there’s more than a little danger in forming an identity around advocacy and activism, so I tend to bristle a bit at the solidity of thinking of myself as an ‘advocate’.

I’m hella queer, and proudly so, and because of the spaces and access that I’m fortunate to have at my fingertips through the work I do, I try my best to make space while taking space in the world.

It’s a seemingly simple praxis, but it’s rooted in the radical and innate belief that we hold each other’s lives, liberation, safety, progress, in our hands. As an editor, for Platform and others, that looked like deliberately and consciously looking for and developing the writing of black women, trans writers, queer writers, etc., especially in spaces where there are more barriers to our publications than most.

It’s quiet, gradual work, but that’s the kind of work I love best. The media landscape is made richer and more meaningful with our voices in it, and whatever part I get to play in that is a real source of joy and pride.

Photo by – Kgomotso Neto

Who are your two favourite women artists and why?

I have a real soft spot for jazz and jazz writing, as I was raised listening to, and soaking up aspects of jazz culture since I was tiny.

Lately, I’ve really appreciated how South African jazz has widened to really centralise women and my two favourite artists right now are Thandi Ntuli and Zoë Modiga.

They’re electrifyingly talented, and I adore their approach to their craft so much. They make me want to become a better writer.

I love the art that I am exposed to - @ManeoMohale Click To Tweet

Who do you look to for inspiration?

It may sound really silly, but I’m inspired all of the time, everywhere I look. I’m surrounded by passionate and creative people. They’re my ever-expanding chosen family and just basking in their light is enough to inspire me.


Do you have any upcoming projects that you can share with us?

I do! Some of them are still in the oven and developing, especially personal creative projects and publications that are forming on the horizon. But the one I’m most excited about it a queer reading series that I’m launching with some of my favourite people in the world.

It’ll be a space where trans and queer writers can read their work to an audience and share their process while building a supportive and responsive community at the same time.

We have such powerful, thoughtful, and innovative writing produced by trans and queer people here in SA, and I’m excited to lend my hand in creating a space for us to just bask in each other’s brilliance.

Photo by – Kgomotso Neto

What advice do you have for anyone who wants to become a creative artist?

Find your family, and start where you are. Finding, building and nurturing a community of people who are both supportive and critical is how I started on this convoluted journey – they were the first people I trusted to read my work, and created a bedrock for me to test my ideas for projects and pieces.

Also, what inevitably happens is a moment when you all look around the room at each other and say: “We don’t need anyone else to start something gorgeous. We’ve got each other.”

As a Black Queer Feminist, how do you navigate through challenges in the creative industry?

I think one of my main challenges, (asides from the given ones around navigating the triple whammy of racism, sexism and homophobia), is learning how to take up space while standing my ground, especially around some of the principles and values on which I refuse to compromise.

I’m not a particularly confrontational person, and I’m quite a sensitive bean at the best times, so learning how to be firm for myself is definitely an ever-unfolding lesson. When it comes to being fierce for other people, my writers, for example, I can do that in a heartbeat.

It’s instinctual for me to be protective. But when it comes to me, well shucks. But we live and we learn, and I think I’m getting better at it, slowly.

If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here.

8 International residencies for African visual artists in 2018

 Are you a visual artist or art student who dreams of traveling the world?

While every other day we read one article or the other of people quitting their jobs to travel the world, sadly that will just never be a reality for many people.

But that does not mean we should write our dreams off completely because International residency programs are one way for you to explore new places across the world!

Without further Ado, here are 8 thrilling international residencies you might want to look out for.

1. Est-Nort-Est, résidence d´artistes

The top priority of Est-Nort-Est is to encourage artistic research and experimentation in contemporary art. Artists will have access to an individual studio and share a collective house with the other artists.

The program places importance on working in new cultural spaces, and dialogue between artists of different backgrounds.

The Est-Nort-Est residencies take place three times a year: spring, summer, and autumn.

Location: Québec, Canada

Style: Contemporary Art

Media: Visual Art, Sculpture, Textile Art, New Media, Painting, Installation

Duration: Two months

Funding: $1215 stipend and lodging provided.

2. Art Noise Travel Residency

While many residencies typically take place in one country throughout the course of the residency, art noise travel residency will take place in 3 different countries, although within Africa, if you have ever wanted to learn and travel, this might be something you are interested in.

The Art Noise residency is open to not only visual artists but designers and art theorists as well.

Artists will receive guidance from more experienced colleagues in the residency. In return, all artists will create at least one project per country inspired by a culture in that country and presentations are expected.

Selected artists will also have access to a private studio and apartment, cultural spots, tourist locations and gallery spaces.

Location: About 3 African countries

Media: Visual Art, Sculpture, New Media, Printmaking, design, art theist.

Duration: A little over three months.

Funding: Studio provided. Allowance and Accommodation available.


3. Villa Lena Foundation

The Villa Lena Foundation is a non-profit that supports contemporary artists working in art, music, film, and various other creative endeavors.

Each year, they invite applicants to live and work in a 19th-century villa in the Tuscan countryside for two months in order to promote multi-disciplinary dialogue between professional artists of all levels and backgrounds.

The Villa Lena Foundation is a hub for new research, collaborative discussion, and innovative ideas.

Selected artists will stay on a thousand acre estate with sweeping views of vineyards and olive groves. Artists are asked to donate a work to the Villa at the end of their stay, where it will be displayed on the property.

Location: Tuscany, Italy

Media: Visual Art, music, film, literature, fashion and other creative disciplines.

Duration: Two months.

Funding: Lodging, studio, and half-board included (breakfast and dinner).


4. 360 Xochi Quetzal Artist Residency

360 Xochi Quetzal Artist Residency is a fairly new organization that provides free housing, studio space and board for its residents.

Based in central Mexico, this charming mountain town is home to many artists who gather in the cafes, ride horses around the mountains and gather by the lake to watch the pelicans.

Artists are lodged in a hacienda style home with both individual rooms and studios and shared living and dining areas.

All artists provided with a desk and wi-fi, painters get professional easels, ceramic artists have access to a kiln, and a new floor loom was just obtained for weavers.

Location: Chapala, Mexico

Media: Visual Art, New Media, Printmaking, Sculpture, Ceramics, Textile Art, Photography.

Duration: One month.

Funding: Enjoy free housing, wi-fi, all utilities, laundry on the premises, and weekly maid service. Each resident also receives a $1,000 peso food stipend. You will only need to pay for your local transportation, entertainment, and additional food.


5. Nordisk Kunstnarsenter Dale

The Nordic Artists’ Center was established in 1998 and is funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Culture to bring international artists in the visual arts together.

With the stunning, award-winning architecture with sweeping vistas, this residency attracts artists from all over the world to concentrate on their work while taking in the surroundings. Over 1520 artists applied for spots last year, with only five residencies available for each session 

SLA Tip: make sure your application is in tip-top shape before submitting.

The center’s facilities include private residences, wireless internet access, a shared workshop, a machinery hall for woodwork, a darkroom, and a ventilated room for painting, etc.

The workshop is also furnished with welding equipment and facilities for printmaking. English and Norwegian are spoken.

Location: Dale Sunnfjord, Norway

Media: Visual Art, Design, Architecture, and Curators.

Duration: Two or three months.

Funding: The residency at the Nordic Artists’ Centre includes a monthly grant of 1200 USD, living and working space, as well as support for travel expenses up to 725 USD, which will be reimbursed on arrival.


In this new type of Artist-in-residence program, artists choose at least two different studio/workshop spaces to visit in order to complete a proposed project, deepen techniques, and exhibit work.

With many studios to take residence in, artists have the opportunity for rich exchange between experienced and emerging artists alike.

This residency is for emerging, mid-career, and established artists of all disciplines.

Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina

Media: Visual Art, New Media, Printmaking, Sculpture.

Duration: Two weeks minimum.

Funding: Depending on the case, R.A.R.O might be able to grant some scholarships to foreign artists. Find more information on their website.


7. MAK-Schindler Residency

West-coast wanderers can slip into a California state of mind while roosting in the Rudolph Schindler-designed Mackey Apartments.

Every year, the MAK-Schindler residency invites two artists and two architects to explore the intersection of culture and the built environment of Los Angeles. MAK steps in with a healthy monthly stipend and the LA connections to realize resident projects, which are made public through a final exhibition.

Location: Los Angeles, California

Media: Visual Art, New Media, Printmaking, Sculpture.

Duration: Six months


8. Richard Rogers Fellowship at Residency

This research-based residency programme was launched in October 2016 by the Harvard Graduate School of Design team.

Taking inspiration from its namesake, Lord Rogers, the Fellowship does not distinguish between disciplines; any accomplished professional or scholar whose work addresses the built environment is encouraged to apply.

Six fellows will be selected each year for a 12-week residency in Rogers’ famed Wimbledon House – which he built for his parents in the 1960s. Next year will also see the Modernist building filled with lectures, exhibitions, and parties.

This residency is for emerging, mid-career, and established artists of all disciplines

Location: Wimbledon House, London, UK

Media: Visual Art, New Media, Printmaking, Sculpture.

Duration: Three months

Do you know of any special opportunities or events lined up for 2018? Share it with us here.