Art as Activism - A Conversation with Nelson Makamo


Tuesday, December 7, 2021, 3:00pm to 4:30pm


In Person for Harvard ID Holders & Virtual

Nelson Makamo Event

Art as Activism – A conversation with Nelson Makamo

"Art is one of the things that doesn’t choose the audience: the audience chooses it." - Nelson Makamo on his work.

Nelson's work has always been about hope. Art can be enjoyed by everyone, and Makamo creates for every person that interacts with his work. Makamo is inspired by the environment and community around him - and that includes the diversity beyond his home country, South Africa. His work resonates with people of diverse backgrounds as he looks for honesty in the reaction to his work and how it makes people feel without dictating how they should feel. While art can make a political statement in an aggressive way, Makamo brings out the non-aggressive activist voice within everyone. Makamo's voice and narrative for Africans is not ordinarily heard. At this event, Makamo will showcase a selection of his work and sit down with Olani Ewunnet (Harvard Graduate School of Design) and Phillip Michalak (Harvard College) to have a conversation on the various ways art can move us emotionally in unique ways to bring social change. 

Nelson Makamo photo

Johannesburg based Artist Nelson Makamo is best known for his charcoal and oil paintings that redress decades of images that have portrayed African children in destitution. Makamo’s career spans sixteen years, since the year he received his formal training at Artist Proof Studios in Johannesburg. However, he has managed to solidify an iconic signature and a subject matter that has steadily placed him on a global stage, making him one of the world’s youngest and most sought-after visual artists of our times. Makamo has exhibited in South Africa, USA, France, Italy, the Netherlands, England, and Scotland. His work is featured in prestigious public and private collections. Nelson Makamo’s artwork speaks to changing the global mindset of what it means to be an African child. His portraits have strong emotions that every young African possesses; from conviction, to prowess and determination, you cannot help but resonate with every piece. His mixed media style and a unique mark-making technique that breaks the scholarly rules is a very distinct signature.

This will be a hybrid event. In person capacity is limited - to attend this event in person, please register below. Only Harvard ID holders will be allowed to attend in-person. We welcome everyone else to join in via Zoom where we will also be taking questions for the Q&A session.

ORGANIZER: Harvard Center for African Studies


In-Person (limited space, Harvard ID holders only):