Women animatingthe Ethiopian art scene this year
Women are the driving force behind any cultural transformation and March 8 is a day to celebrate that fact. It is a day that reminds one of the everyday injustices that women face and mark the steady progress women and men are making in the Sisyphean struggle for gender equality. Below is a list of 8 women that are have added their own flavor to the local art scene through music, literature, visual arts and performance arts. It is by no means comprehensive, and there are so many more women doing their part in their respective fields but these are the women we have chosen to highlight.
HiwotEmishaw’s writing has been giving readers a glimpse into contemporary Ethiopian lives with her recent short story collection Fikifaki, follow up to her novel Baricho. Her stories challenge the status quo by forcing society to come to terms with accepted norms that propagate patriarchy and systematic inequality.
Betty G has succeeded in bringing contemporary Ethiopian music to the rest of the continent through multiple musical collaborations. Her humanitarian work with refugees and continued activism for displaced people continues to make her an artist with a heart of gold.
Marta’s photography series that explore and document humanity in the rural context has strong elements of social activism. Through her photographic storytelling, Marta campaigns for gender equality, access to resources and equal opportunities.
One of the few female visual artists breaking into a male-dominated field, Tizita’s poignant paintings are definitely worth a visit. Her success is bound to attract more female artists to join her ranks as she continues to pave the way.
Selome’s beautiful paintings of interpretive landscape and self- portraits clearly show great execution of concepts. This was evident in her pieces to ‘Shoa: A Geographical Exploration’ at the Institute of Ethiopian Studies and ‘Motion and Emotion’ at Alliance Ethio-Française.
Mahlet Afework or Mafi has been the face of Ethiopian fashion for a while and continues to represent traditional design using hand woven garments made by women. Giving Ethiopian traditional fashion a modern interpretation, Mafi designs unique pieces of high fashion.
Genet Demssie and BetelhemLeul
Artists little known outside the dance circles, Genet and Betelhem are combining their exceptional talent and technique with exquisite story telling. Destino Dance Company is the home that lets them explore contemporary dance fusion with traditional Ethiopian dance elements. The future seems bright for these two dancers.
Breakout star of the past year, Chelina follows the steps of Betty G and countless female musicians before her in adding another tile to the Ethiopian music mosaic. Her beautiful voice is matched with her musical instincts to create unique melodies that attempt to represent these contemporary times.