Alumna Alexandria Maloney and Student Giggs Kgole to Be Part of U.N. “Say My Name” Exhibition
John Cabot University is proud to announce that alumna Alexandria Maloney (class of 2015) and student Giggs Kgole will be part of the upcoming virtual art exhibition called “Say My Name,” presented by American filmmaker Ava Duvernay, in commemoration of the U.N. Day of International Decade for People of African Descent (IDEP) on March 25, 2021. The event is organized by the Congressional Black Caucus Institute (CBCI), currently holding special consultative status within the U.N. Economic and Social Council. The exhibition is currently live in London and scheduled to go to Los Angeles later this year.
The aim of the event is to bring together U.N. leaders and members of the African, African-American, Caribbean, and South American diaspora, and the global expat community, for a gathering on the topic of the global Black community and social justice. “It is our belief that this gathering may help facilitate a more formal convening of members of the total diaspora represented at the U.N. while also providing the ‘Say My Name’ exhibition an opportunity for global exposure,” said Alexandria Maloney, who has been appointed as Event Point-of-Contact.
Student and artist Giggs Kgole will showcase his work Boshielo, a mixed media piece that explores “the never-ending beauty of Black resilience,” and “captures the essence of Black stories, through past and current day adversity.” Boshielo alludes to the gender-based violence taking place in South Africa and pays tribute to the #SayHerName campaign, which brings awareness to the names and stories of Black women and girls who have been victimized by racist police violence.
“I feel it is my responsibility and duty, as a young Black man, to remind my peers and the world, that we cannot exist without our mothers. I hope my work Boshielo will become a historical reminder for future generations; DO NOT LET HISTORY REPEAT ITSELF.DO NOT REPEAT OUR MISTAKES!!! Please, stop killing our mothers,” said Giggs Kgole.
Curated by London-based Signature African Art’s gallery director Khalil Akar and presented by DuVernay, the exhibition will take place in both London and Los Angeles. Inspired by DuVernay’s Netflix documentary 13th (2016), the exhibition will showcase works that portray the Black experience in the United States, United Kingdom, and Africa, highlighting the social and racial issues in each continent. Say My Name is dedicated to connecting African artists with the history of the diaspora in Europe and America. Each show features 13 African artists who have used their talents to create portrait paintings and sculptures to articulate the many layers of Black history and racial struggles on a global scale while paying tribute to prominent figures both past and present.
Alexandria Maloney says, “This is monumental for so many reasons and I don’t believe that it’s by coincidence that two leading voices of this historic United Nations program are a JCU student and alumna. I was always encouraged by my community and professors at JCU that I can be the one to make a difference. Whether it’s in my local community or at the global level. I always start by asking myself ‘how would I like to see the world? What do peace and security look like to me? What role can I play in making that a reality?’ As someone who’s got very little to lose, I see this as a prime opportunity to bring life to something that has never been done before. I’m humbled to make this vision a reality and I hope for more opportunities in the future to bring my [global diaspora] community together.”
About Giggs Kgole and Alexandria Maloney
Born in Tembisa and raised in Limpopo (South Africa), Giggs considers himself to be a self-taught artist. After earning a scholarship to attend high school at St. John’s College in Houghton (Johannesburg), he interned for renowned South African artist William Kentridge, and when he was 19 years old, he was able to showcase his art in his first professional exhibition at the Pretoria Art Museum. Giggs also exhibited his work in a solo show at the Everard Read Gallery in Johannesburg, and then in Rome. In 2018, he became one of the youngest art gallery owners in South Africa when he opened the Gaslamp Gallery in the Maboneng Precinct of Johannesburg.
In 2019, Giggs was featured in The Mail & Guardian’s annual ‘200 Young South Africans’ list. That same year, he did a six-month artist residency in Vallauris, in the south of France, with Undiscovered Canvas, (an African arts promotion agency that organizes exhibitions for African visual artists in France and in South Africa) in partnership with Mekanova (a Cannes-based contemporary ceramic art and craft shop with an art exhibition space). He also held an exhibition called Divine in London and Cannes, France, and won the People’s choice awards for his work God Ke Mama, which was the catalog cover of the 10th Anniversary Young Masters Art Prize in London.
After graduating in 2015 with a B.A. in International Affairs from JCU, Alexandria went on to prestigious master’s programs in International Studies at Morgan State University and in Public Administration at Cornell University. She has worked in education policy in her native Washington D.C. as a fellow with the White House Initiative for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and her research into diversity and inclusion was recognized by Forbes when she was named an Under 30 Scholar in 2018 and 2019.
Earlier this year, Alexandria was elected as a board member for the organization for Black Professionals in International Affairs, and she is President and co-founder of The World is Watching, a global coalition of foreign policy professionals, NGO employees, policy advocates, and grassroots activists, on a mission to internationally amplify the global Black Lives Matter Movement. Alexandria was the recipient of the 2020 JCU Distinguished Alumni Award.