25 January 2013

Rwanda: Meet the Artists Making a Big Name

Although art can be considered one of the untapped resources in Rwanda, most painters, sculptures or craftsmen have failed to make ends meet because of the minimal market for their products.

Famous French artist, Edgar Degas, said that art is not what you see, but what you make others see. This is the feeling you get when you walk through Inema Arts Centre located in Kacyiru immediately after Solace Ministries. The colourful big pot made out of ropes at the entrance definitely gives you the longing to see what goes on inside.

When you walk through the gates, your eyes can't help but open in admiration at each art piece nailed to the wall in the house which is used as an art showcasing gallery, studio and also, a home to some of the artists.

The art house was established last year by brothers Innocent Nkurunziza and Emmanuel Nkuranga.

In an interview with Society Magazine during the tour of the house, Emmanuel Nkuranga expressed his interest in promoting art in Rwanda which is currently the most untapped resource.

"Art is openly under-valued, ignored, or misunderstood. Rwanda has no art in schools and no professional or post-secondary art training. This is why we set up this art centre so that anyone interested in art can come and embrace their God-given talent," Nkuranga explained.

He added, "We believe that Inema Art Centre can provide exposure to creative people and create opportunities for Rwanda's most underserved, to use creativity for a productive livelihood."

Besides the exhibit area, there are two other sections at the art centre that include Nziza Artworks and Art with a Mission that train and employ craftswomen.

Nziza Artworks is a section where women come and sew on a daily basis, making African jewellery from beads. They also make pillow covers and other artistic products from kitenge material.

The Art with a Mission unlocks children's hidden artistic talent. Inema mentors students in art as an occupation and survival skill. Art with a Mission cultivates the artistic ability of children from 10-17 years of age. Although at the time of our visit we didn't get the chance to meet with the children, we were able to see their finished art pieces at the AWAM showroom.

At the studio, we were able to interact with some artists who were creating amicable art pieces.

Timothy Wandulu, made a crocodile sculpture. He said that most sculptures are hollow on the inside.

"The material for any sculpture depends on the place. For example, this crocodile sculpture is for indoor exhibitions so that is why I used paper and wire. I use different styles when working on any kind of sculpture," the shy Wandulu explained.

He also recently completed a guitar sculpture using fire - it's in the exhibition hall at the art centre.

Regarding his earnings he said, "We don't get frequent buyers but because I'm passionate about what I do, I rarely think of how much I will make for each art piece. But we survive. I think the highest price I have ever received for an art piece was $200 and I was so happy about it."

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