The one theme that does come out more frequently in my work is woman in contemplation. That view is important to me. Some (but not all) of my images have women in traditional roles. Education is important, but with or without education, we all think about our lives. My mother is one of the wisest and strongest people I know, yet she grew up at a time when education was limited.
Having my studio on my parents’ property allowed me to stop and walk next door to share coffee with my family. Our home even had eleven coffee trees. For 2 months each year we roasted and drank our own coffee.
Talking with my mother has always kept me grounded. I only drink coffee when I return home.
Coffee beans growing on my parents' property
Ceiling Detail from Debre Birhan Sellasie Church, Gondar, Ethiopia
Photo: Emebet Belete, 2009
In Ethiopia, traditional paintings are part of our religious heritage. The paintings on the walls of Debre Birhan Sellasie Church in Gondar, Ethiopia, date from the 1700’s. There are similar paintings in churches and in religious works throughout Ethiopia. I’ve used some of this style in my pastel and oil painting works.
Religion is a daily part of most people’s lives in Ethiopia. Some of our churches are still in use after a millennium.
Priests and churchgoers in traditional white clothing (hemmed with bright woven colours) play a big part in my work. Here also I like the view of people (men and woman) caught in a quiet space, thinking.