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Staff Members

Maureen de Jager

BFA, MFA (Witwatersrand), PhD (Kingston University London)
Associate Professor (HOD)

email: m.dejager@ru.ac.za

Maureen de Jager is an artist-academic with a long-standing interest in the nature and value of practice-based research. In particular, she uses her practice to reflect on South Africa’s traumatic histories as sites of epistemological uncertainty. De Jager has a practice-based PhD in Fine Art through Kingston University London. Her PhD research focused on the South African War of 1899-1902, in regards to its imperialist underpinnings, its subsequent ‘mythologies’, and its residues and traces in a de-colonising South Africa. De Jager has exhibited both locally and internationally; and has held four solo exhibitions at the National Festival of the Arts, including In Sepia (Main Festival Programme, 2008) and Maria’s Story (Main Festival Programme, 2012). In 2010 she was a finalist in the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum Biennial Exhibition and Award. She works across media, with an emphasis on book arts, sculpture and installation, and performative practice. Her art-making is supplemented by a keen interest in art history and theory; and she has authored a number of conference papers and journal articles. 

Dominic Thorburn 


BFA,MFA (Rhodes), Tamarind Professional Printer (New Mexico)
Professor (Printmedia)

email: d.thorburn@ru.ac.za

Dominic Thorburn is an artist printmaker who has exhibited extensively both locally and abroad and is broadly represented in art museum, corporate, and private collections. As a past winner of the Absa Atelier he was granted a year’s residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris. A recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship he studied at the renowned Tamarind Institute, University of New Mexico, USA. Thorburn has presented papers on diverse aspects of printmaking at numerous international conferences and is widely published on the subject. He was awarded an Amnesty International Social Change Award in recognition of his extensive community engagement and advocacy within the arts.

Thorburn is a founding member of the Impact International Printmaking Conference committee as well as the International Academic Printmaking Alliance. With experience in arts administration and policy development, he is often consulted by professional entities within the visual arts sector and has been a member of the National Arts Council of South Africa and the artistic committee of the National Festival of the Arts.

Research interests include collaborative printmaking, the visual narrative and oral history, large format hybrid printmaking, and alternative and accessible print mediums.


Ruth Simbao

BFA (Stellenbosch),MWS (ICS, Toronto), MPhil (ICS, Toronto), AM (Harvard), PhD (Harvard)
Professor and NRF SARChI Chair in ‘Geopolitics and the Arts of Africa’

email: r.simbao@ru.ac.za

Ruth Simbao Ruth Simbao is the DSI/NRF SARChI Chair in Geopolitics and the Arts of Africa and a Professor in the Fine Art Department at Rhodes University, South Africa. She runs the Arts of Africa and Global Souths research programme, which comprises the SARChI Chair funded by the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) and the National Research Foundation (NRF); PROSPA (Publishing and Research of the South: Positioning Africa) funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Art POWA network. Simbao is a core researcher in the Africa Multiple Cluster of Excellence, which is a Rhodes collaboration with the University of Lagos (Nigeria), Moi University (Kenya), Joseph Ki-Zerbo University (Burkina Faso), and Bayreuth University (Germany).

Simbao received her PhD from the History of Art and Architecture Department at Harvard University in 2008, and was an American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Postdoctoral Fellow as part of the Humanities in Africa programme in 2010. In 2002 she received a Harvard University Teaching Award as a Teaching Fellow, and was the recipient of the Vice-Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Award at Rhodes University in 2009.

Her recent research interests include contemporary art with a particular focus on Africa; the geopolitics of art and society; Africa–China and the arts; ‘strategic southernness’ and global souths; theories of ‘place’, contra-flow diasporas, cosmolocalism, the power of small spaces, modest gestures, faux pas and failures; artists’ responses to xenophobia; contemporary cultural festivals and globalisation; performance theory and site-situational art, and a geopolitics of knowledge.

Recent curated exhibitions include Thania Petersen: Between land and a raised foot (2019), Bright Ackwerh: Where de choy dey? (2018), Converge (2018, curated with Brunn Kramer), Consuming Us at the Cape Town Art Fair (2016, curated with Azu Nwagbogu), SLIP: Mbali Khoza and Igshaan Adams (2014), the performance art programme BLIND SPOT at the National Arts Festival (2014), and Making Way: Contemporary Art from South Africa and China at the Standard Bank Gallery in Johannesburg (2013) and the National Arts Festival in Makhanda (2012) (www.makingway.co.za).

Simbao has presented her work in South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria, Jamaica, China, Hong Kong, Canada, the USA, the UK, France, New Zealand, Poland, Australia, Germany and Switzerland, and her work has been translated into Spanish, Portuguese, Danish, Finnish, Mandarin and French. In 2016 Simbao joined the editorial consortium of the African Arts journal that is associated with UCLA and distributed by MIT Press (https://www.mitpressjournals.org/aa). She founded the annual PROSPA Publishing Workshops which have so far collaborated with Makerere University (Uganda), Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (Ghana), and the University of Lagos (Nigeria) (https://www.ru.ac.za/artsofafrica/programme/publishingworkshops/). She also founded the Residency for Artists and Writers (RAW) programme (https://www.ru.ac.za/artsofafrica/programme/residenciesforartistsandwriters/ that to date has hosted artists and writers from South Africa, Uganda, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Germany.


Christine Dixie

Christine Dixie Staff Photo

BFA (Witwatersrand), MFA (Cape Town)
Senior Lecturer

email: c.dixie@ru.ac.za

Christine Dixie’s work is predominantly focused on two interlinked concerns, the visual strategies deployed in frontier landscape representation and the narratives used in constructing images of gender. Extending the boundaries of print making as a medium by working in installation and by using a variety of matrix’s and materials, her work is intent on drawing the viewer into a mesmeric yet disquieting space. She was awarded an Artist Research Fellowship at the Smithsonian Institute,
Washington D.C.

Her work is represented in national and international collections including The New York Public Library, The Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, The Johannesburg Art Museum and the Isiko National Art Museum. The installation The Binding, 2010, which examines the relationship between sacrifice and male identity, was acquired by the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art. Her multi-media installation, To Be King, was exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 2018.


Thembinkosi Goniwe

MFA, (University of Cape Town), MA, PhD (Cornell University)
Senior Lecturer

email: t.goniwe@ru.ac.za

Thembinkosi Goniwe is an artist and art historian whose research interests are in modern and contemporary visual arts. Focused areas are on African art, postcolonial and decolonial discourses, criticism and curating of exhibitions, which are engaged in the context of black radical thoughts and global south discourses.

Heidi Sincuba

MFA, (Goldsmiths, University of London)

email: h.sincuba@ru.ac.za

Heidi Sincuba is a South African artist and speculative thinker who embodies the erotic as power against violence, toxicity and erasure. They studied at the University of Cape Town, Artez Arnhem and hold an MFA from Goldsmiths University of London and are active in several exhibitions, fairs and conferences yearly. They have exhibited in the Netherlands, Germany, the United Kingdom, United States and South Africa. Their most recent solo exhibition was part of the National Arts Festival in Makhanda. They are currently the Head of Painting at The University Currently Known As Rhodes, South Africa.


Mbali Khoza

BFA,MFA (Wits)

email: m.khoza@ru.ac.za

Mbali Khoza is an artist and Art History and Visual Arts Lecturer at Rhodes University whose research interrogates authorial identity in artistic practice by posing the question 'what difference does it make ‘who’ is speaking?’. Through a critical analysis of post-colonial artist practice, she investigates the ways in which artists use visual language to not only speak but rethink ways of speaking. Khoza has participated in a number of exhibitions, such as the Gwanza Photography at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe (2011), Rechewed at the Centre of Historical Reenactments (CHR), (2011), Out of Thin Air at the Michael Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town (2012), After After Tears, with CHR at The New Museum, Museum as Hub, New York (2013), Regions A-G, Johannesburg Library (2013), BLINDSPOT at the National Arts Festival, Grahamstown (2014), next thing you know, Blank Gallery, Cape Town (2014), Poetics of Relation, LiveInYourHead, Geneva (2015). She is currently enrolled at WiSER (Wits Institute for Social Economic Research) as a History of Art PhD student. Her PhD research examines the historicity of blackness, black existence and black expressive culture. 

 Rat Western

BFA,MFA (Wits)
Senior Lecturer

email: n.western@ru.ac.za

Rat Western worked for several years in the advertising industry as a freelance web and print media specialist, and has lectured at the Wits School of Art and Vega School of Brand Communication. Her research interests are in ephemeral, experiential and participative art whether they be digital, installation or performative.  She has exhibited broadly in South Africa and internationally in Florence, Dublin and Rotterdam.  Western has exhibited several times as part of the main programme at the National Arts Festival and has become increasingly interested in site specific collaboration, most notably Discharge (2012) at the Grahamstown Military base with Gavin Krastin and Alan Parker and MACHINE FOR LIVING(2014) with Wesley Deintje which received the Standard Bank Silver Ovation Award for Artistic Innovation, Excellence and the Exploration Of New Performance Styles.  She was the International and News Editor for the online publication ArtThrob from 2006-2010 and has had several articles published in Art South Africa and De Arte.


 Songezile Churchill Madikida

BA, BFA (Wits)

email: S.Madikida@ru.ac.za

Songezile Madikida obtained his BA (FA) at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg in 2001. As a practicing artist, Madikida’s art has been exhibited both locally and internationally with his first solo art exhibition, Liminal States, at the Johannesburg Art Gallery in 2003, and his second, Interminable Limbo, at Michael Stevenson in 2004. In 2006 he showed on Olvida Quien Soy - Erase me from who I am at the Centro Atlantico de Arte Moderno in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, and was selected for the 7th edition of Dak'Art, the Dakar Biennale and in 2007 for the prestigious Dokumenta art exhibition in Germany. In 2003 Madikida was the joint winner of the Tollman Art Award for a young artist, in 2006, he was named the Standard Bank Young Artist of the year and in 2017, Madikida won the Eastern Cape Arts and Cultural Individual Contributor’s Award. From 2013 to 2016, Madikida taught Art Theory and Printmaking at the Walter Sisulu University. Currently, Madikida teaches Art History & Visual Culture while also pursuing a MA degree in Art History at Rhodes University.


Luke Kaplan

BFA, MFA (Rhodes)

email: l.kaplan@ru.ac.za

Luke Kaplan is primarily a photographic artist, but incorporates various media and processes into his practice, including video, written word, sculpture, installation and performance. His photography often utilises traditional techniques and he works with hand-printed images, as well as older and alternative processes, working with simple home-made film cameras as well as digitally. His work is often concerned with the convergence of the inner, personal, and the outer, collective, experience – especially where this touches on social and environmental issues, and he incorporates ritual and performance as central elements in his creative practice. His latest exhibition was shown on the main programme of the 2019 National Arts Festival.


 Moira Japp

Office Administrator & Stock Controller
email: moira.japp@ru.ac.za


Jan Nell

BFA (Rhodes)
Principal Technical Officer
email: j.nell@ru.ac.za


Cynthia Donyeli

General Attendant (Sculpture and Painting)


Mpumzi Mpati

Studio Technician (Printmaking Section)

email: m.mpati@ru.ac.za


Last Modified: Wed, 19 Feb 2020 11:05:43 SAST