About the Artist

In September of 2018 I sat down with Kathryn MacDonald, to be published in the Belleville Intelligencer.  Here's some of what she wrote:

Emebet Belete’s philosophy lives in her art. Her intention to seek something mysterious and lasting through colour, mood, and balance draws viewers deep within the work. In “Birch,” our eyes are pulled from the foreground birch, past the evergreen, deep into the depths of the Canadian landscape.

In May of 2014, I had the chance to chat with Michael K. Corbin.  Michael is the founder/writer of Artbookguy.com, a site where he talks with contemporary artists about their work and their views about contemporary art.  The following is the beginning of our interview.

“…Most of my work relates to my experience growing up … For me, art is the way of telling my stories and sharing it with people…”

 

MICHAEL: Hello Emebet, Your work is so warm and human. In fact, your figurative works are very familial and almost tribal. You seem to like depicting families and groups of people, No?

 

EMEBET: Yes, Michael. I love people, seeing our culture, how we get together in good and bad times. I grew up in a big family (one of eight children). My parents were from the countryside and I grew up listening to stories that involved lots of people from different parts of Ethiopia.

 

The traditional clothing, the hair styles, paintings, weddings, churches, funeral ceremonies and even the tombs are fascinating. Just watching my mother and others prepare food and coffee has been such a part of my life. I love how our traditional cloth with beautiful patterns and designs are still hand woven and used by most people. Those brilliant colors, patterns and cultural activities are where I started to really look at people.

 

MICHAEL: I think that Ethiopians are among the most beautiful people in the world. Just stunning! Are they aware of this? Or is that considered vain and narcissistic?

 

EMEBET: This is a tough question! When we live in it, I don't think people are aware of it. When I have travelled, I've heard many people say that Ethiopians are beautiful. I don't think when I grew up in Ethiopia, I was aware that we were beautiful. For myself, in my family, I grew up hearing I was beautiful, but I didn't generalize this to the whole country.

 

MICHAEL: Your work is also dignified and has a strong sense of ceremony and ritual. Is that intentional on your part? Also, do you consider your work Ethiopian Contemporary art, Canadian art or just art? I mean, are you in Ethiopia now?

 

EMEBET: Most of my work relates to my experience growing up. Every year, people celebrate Timket and Meskel in a big procession. Almost every day of the month, somewhere a saint is celebrated in a church or peoples' homes with singing, dancing, drumming and more. People dressed head to toe in white with intricate coloured hems and hand woven cotton "shemmas" are art in action.

 

The full interview, plus links to many other contemporary artists can be found on his website.