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Zimbabwean Sculptures at Toledo Botanical Garden

Sojourner’s Truth Staff

Vivienne Croisette, a British-born promoter of national and international artists, fell in love with the work of Zimbabwe sculptors 17 years ago and, despite the very troubling times that nation was experiencing, relocated to the southern African country to focus her attention on working those artists. The result was Zimscuplt, an international dealer in Zimbabwean sculpture which exhibits all over the world in a variety of settings. Fortunately for Toledo-area residents, Zimsculpt and its visiting artists will be featured in an exhibit at the Toledo Botanical Garden now through the end of October.

Aron Kapembeza, Kapembeza's Coming From
The Field, Passmore Mupindiko,
Vivienne Croisette

The Toledo exhibit, following on the heels of a Dallas visit, brings to town artists Aron Kapembeza and Passmore Mupindiko, who will be not only meeting and greeting visitors but will also be creating more pieces during the upcoming weeks.

The exhibit features 100 stone sculptures from Zimbabwean artists and all of the pieces are for sale. In fact, the sale of the pieces finances the tour and provides income for the more than 300 artists that Croisette and Zimscuplt work with and promote. “It’s trade not aid,” said Croisette of the way Zimsculpt works. “It’s not a charity, it’s a business.”

Typically Zimsculpt is on the road seven months of the year featuring the stone sculptures of five generations of Zimbabweans, said Croisette, the most famous of whom is Dominic Henhura. Several of Henhura’s pieces are on display at the Toledo Botanical Garden.

Most of the stones used in Zimbabwean sculpture belong to the Serpentine geological family – a very hard stone – and most of the pieces used are mined by hand.

This culture of stone sculpture is not one that has been ingrained in Zimbabwe artistic life for centuries. The trend is rather recent, in fact, dating back to the 1950s when Frank McEwen, a Scotsman and museum administrator, moved to Zimbabwe – then called Rhodesia – to assume control of the fledgling Rhodes National Gallery, which would be, in keeping of the apartheid laws of the time, strictly limited to the work of white artists, preferably the old masters.

McEwen, seeking to engage black Africans in artistic endeavors eventually set up an unofficial workshop for the black staff of the Gallery. The workshop eventually included a number of prominent artists who worked primarily in stone and began a tradition of sculpting excellence that has continued once the nation of Zimbabwe emerged in the late 1970s.


Mupindiko and his Guinea Fowl


Copyright © 2017 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 08/16/18 14:12:37 -0700.

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