What Makes Your Heart Fly? is an invitation by Sizwe Sama to celebrate the little things that lead to a sense of fulfilment. Declaring that "you can't pour from an empty cup", the artist emphasizes the importance of making happiness a daily choice and a personal investment. For Sizwe, happiness is closely related to his friends, family members and the LGBTQI+ community, which he honors by depicting them in his compositions.
The vibrant colors and various patterns in his works let our eyes bounce back and forth and ask us how far we are willing to go to attain a feeling of lightness. The title of the show – What Makes Your Heart Fly? - is a reference to this feeling and derives directly from the recurring bird motifs (flamingos, peacocks and flying feathers) in the compositions presented here.
Sophisticated works of bricolage, the artworks are composed of fabric cut-outs from the Seshweshwe, brocade, linen, and wax fabric. These materials are a conscious selection which draws on Sizwe's personal experience. In fact, it was Sizwe's mother who taught him how to stitch his own clothes, a technique through which he got to learn about the strength and durability of each material he uses.
Playfully drawing on this legacy, Sizwe's work is characterized by the visibility of its process of cutting and stitching together the layers of fabric. Making visible the long, delicate, and strategic technique that goes into the assembling of the pieces, Sizwe draws our attention to the amount of time and energy that we put into the things we do and invites us to find our own ways "to fill our cups". Happiness, as he sees it, and how the artworks here on display suggest, is not a destination, but an ongoing pursuit – a constant stitching together of the little things.
Acquired from Guns & Rain Art, Johannesburg, South Africa
This work was a commission for the Africa First x Gordon exhibition program