Interview with Nathaniel Sheppard III


Danger Gevaar Ingozi Studio

By Shameelah Khan

About the Studio:

A proudly black owned Printmaking studio in Johannesburgs’ CBD. DGI studio opened its doors in January of 2016. The collaborative nature of the studio imputes a sense of ownership, and is aimed at empowering the artist both creatively and materially. There is a rejection of hierarchical relations between elements of the studio in favour of reciprocity and collaboration in aid of achieving a more equitable relationship between artists input and the product of their labour. This show is intended to be expressive of a particular post regime narrative. It is a celebration of the prospect of a modality where the artists are invested in the life of the studio literally, figuratively and culturally. These works are a product of the circumstances in which individuals can engage with the Studio. The work is a product of a collectivism which manifests as conversation, tension, conflict and collaboration. It is the visual representation of discussions and arguments about race, culture, decolonization, gender, politics, blackness and whiteness, Africaness. There is less of an emphasis on aesthetic and more on the intellectual discourse of making work and creating the studio.This show is intended to be, both, a reflection of and production of possibilities. These circumstances contrive to produce a creatively empowered aesthetic. Although the show is a product of haphazard collaborations, the work represents the bravery of a young collective navigating the realities of a nascent art business against the backdrop of contemporary socioeconomic realities. The body of work is a commentary on the relationship between the artist and the means of production and this lends it coherence.

About the Artist:

Nathaniel Sheppard III

Nathaniel Sheppard was born in Washington D.C. in 1989 to an American father and South African mother. After high school Nathaniel enrolled in the Southern California Institute of Architecture to pursue a career in the built environment. This is where Sheppard began to enter into the conversation and ideologies surrounding the idea of an architect or artist relationship with the Spaces around them. The dismantling and construction of spaces and ideas, not solely for the purpose of physical/visual representation but rather for a broader more philosophy based understanding of spaces and people’s relationship to them. Sheppard was educated and lived in the united states until 2010, when he chose to migrate to Johannesburg, South Africa to continue his studies. He studied Fine Arts at the university of the Witwatersrand. Through his studies, he came to realise the important socio-political position the practice of art had. Particularly within South Africa’s contemporary continuation of a transformational society. Conversations about racial equality; more specifically access to space and access to opportunity. A country in which the primary contributors to the functioning of the machine that is Johannesburg and South Africa as a whole, are continually segregated socially and economically from those who reap the benefits of the majorities labour. Labour; was the term that was heavily loaded and historically turbulent within the context of a forming south Africa and a word that has been most prominent in the “Labour” of my art practice. A labour of love and a labour that must be done for the benefit of the next generation.

Through the means of Printmaking, having previously been locked into the medium of painting, I along with my steadily growing group of collaborators have taken on an old tradition that is deeply rooted within the South African apartheid movement for the purposes of mass dissemination of ideas and information. Inspired by this history, Sheppard along with, Sbongiseni Khulu, Anaz Mia and Chad Cordeiro have opened up one of south Africa’s only independently run, and black owned print studios in South Africa. Which aims to promote and preserve not only a printmaking practice important to its history, but embolden and inspire young artist to take control over their creative and intellectual property and share it with the younger generation to continue the mission of opening up spaces that allow access to all and not to a privileged few.

Group exhibitions:

– Jozi Maboneng Radio Pop up exhibition, MOAD (Museum of African Design), Johannesburg, 2014. – Martienssen Prize 2014 (Finalist), The Substation (University of the Witwatersrand), Johannesburg, 2014. – Martienssen Prize 2015 (Merit Award winner), The Point of Order (University of the Witwatersrand), Johannesburg, 2015. – Carved, David Krut Projects,Johannesburg, 2015. – A Labour of Love, Weltkulturen Museum, Frankfurt, Germany, 2015. – Inch x Inch, David Krut Projects, Johannesburg, 2016. – Capturing State, KKNK, Oudtshoorn, 2017. – Possibility of Sight, KKNK, Oudtshoorn, 2017. – DGI Pop-Up Print Exhibition, 88 Houghton Drive, Johannesburg, 2017.


Studio details:

7 Sivewright Avenue, Doornfontein, Johannesburg, South Africa

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