Sometimes life has a funny way of working out when you listen to your intuition and follow your passions. Refilwe Nkomo learned this lesson first-hand and has developed a niche for herself that allows her to do what she loves and satisfy her internal drive to make a meaningful contribution to society.
After a stint in the corporate world and a long stay in civil society, she realised that no matter what she did, art would always call out to her. Her awakening arrived when she realised she had the power to use it as a force of good.
“My work is at the intersection of arts and social justice,” Nkomo says. “I always thought those things had to be separate but I have realised over the last few years that each step was leading me to the next one, each experience and opportunity building and scaffolding on the other to create an authentic practice rooted in creativity, arts, culture, equity, justice and fairness.”
As the director of the Visual Arts Network of SA, this multidisciplinary artist and curator creates programmes and installations throughout the country and elsewhere. Her work has received recognition from such places as South Korea, Brazil, Ghana, Germany and the United States.
Nkomo has excelled academically, too. In 2014 she got a master’s in arts and politics from New York University before going on to attend the German Development Institute’s Managing Global Governance Academy in 2017. Most recently, she was chosen as a Clore Chevening Fellow for 2019/2020.