Self-representation in the works of Busisiwe Nzama: An analysis of the Frida ‘little travellers’ and more

Themed section: Material narratives

Keywords: Self-representation, Beadwork, Frida Kahlo, Woza Moya, Busisiwe Nzama, ‘Little travellers'


The focus of this article is on ‘little travellers’, a form of figure making associated with Woza Moya, an arts and craft project based in Hillcrest, KwaZulu-Natal. This article tracks and analyses the creation of two variations of the Frida ‘little traveller’ created by a Woza Moya bead artist, Busisiwe Nzama, in partnership with the Director of the project, Paula Thomson. My data-gathering process was conducted over an eleven-month period of observations interspersed with conversations, photographing and interviews with the objective of deepen-ing an understanding of the co-design and co-creation process between a stakeholder from the arts and craft non-governmental sector and societal practice partners. The study conducted found that an analysis of this process of partnership allows a deepened understanding of the historical realities of an individual expressed through beadworks. Some ‘little travellers’ by Nzama take their inspiration from the work of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. As with Kahlo, much of Nzama’s work is concerned with self-representation. While Nzama and Kahlo treat the subject of self-representation differently, both artists indicate ways in which the self becomes infused in a work of art. This aspect of the ‘little travellers’ conceptualisation enables me to explore the similarities between Nzama and Kahlo’s bodies of work.