Double Victory, 1988, Cement
Thesis Work for the Addis Ababa School of Fine Arts
Currently at the National Institute of Culture
Pictured here with my daughter in 2009.
I loved art in grade 8. My high school had no art program, so I continued to draw and sketch on my own.
After graduating, I decided to apply to the Addis Ababa School of Fine Arts. My father wanted me to do something more practical. My mother convinced him otherwise.
That year over 500 students tried out for 30 places. I ended up being one of only 5 female students accepted. Two years later, when I was asked what major I’d like to do, I said “sculpture.” It was an unusual choice. I was one of just a few women in the history of the school to do so.
In the 1970’s and 80’s a wave of Ethiopian art students headed to Europe and Russia. The teachers at the Fine Art School of Addis Ababa were from this returning group (including Worku Goshu, Tadesse Mesfin, Tadesse Mamecha.)
I can’t imagine a better place than the Addis Ababa Fine Arts School for teaching and motivating students. Our professors – formally educated - were all practicing artists, and knew that they were developing artistic traditions for our country. We had a strong grounding in artistic practices, although we were limited in some resources. In the end, limitations are strengths as well. This background has affected the respect I have for materials, and how I practice and teach art.
When I think back to celebrating the unveiling of my graduate work – Double Victory - I like to remember my whole family – mother, father, siblings – being there with me.
Afterwards I continued going to exhibitions from fellow graduates nearly every week in the different cultural centers throughout the city.
The Fine Arts School is now associated with the Addis Ababa University. Whenever I return to Addis Ababa, I come to visit.