In 2007 Collin Sekajugo, a native Rwandan and artist in his own right, opened the Ivuka Arts Center in Kigali, Rwanda. In a country where arts centers are unheard of Sekajugo’s mission is to “use art to change lives” Ivuka means “rebirth” and it truly is a rebirth for the arts in Rwanda. The Center has become the most sought after fine arts destination in the country. An article from 2009 in the UTNE Reader explains a little about Ivuka Arts Kigali.
So in keeping with this theme of my IO class rather than go out and visit a museum on this perfectly gloomy day, I wanted to take this #MT to blog about the Ivuka Arts Kigali. The search for arts in Rwanda has been a difficult one to say the least. There are virtually no arts organizations in the country, and according to the UTNE Reader article
“most artists exhibit in public buildings or coffee shops where foreigners will see..”
After the Rwandan crisis in 1994 the only major art school L’ecole d’art du Rwanda was completely destroyed along with contemporary cultural heritage artworks. In fact in an attempt to find more information on the school the first site listed in the google search was Ivuka Arts Kigali. Ivuka has created an opportunity for Rwandan visual artists to work on and display their pieces in an institutionalized setting. The center provides studio space and a platform for exposure of new Rwandan artists.
To say that the artists and pieces that are housed within the walls of this arts center are good would be an understatement. What is most striking about the pieces are the colors, the use of vibrant pigments grabs your attention right from the start and draw you into the beauty of the pieces. There are very obvious stylistic tendencies amongst the artists featured in the space. A move towards impressionistism and abstraction is evident. The subject matter of the pieces reflect the culture and environment of the people. Some pieces depict animals while other show us people. They are truly remarkable works of art. But the colors are what really set them apart.
The art of Rwanda is something that is so very new to me, but I have to say that if Ivuka Arts Kigali is an accurate representation of the artists in Rwanda then I believe the arts community should begin taking a closer look. Ivuka may be the first step and hopefully arts organizations will begin to be established throughout the country in the future.
“In a very real sense, Ivuka has become more than “The Rebirth of Contemporary Rwandan Art”. It has become the start of a bright new life for each person it touches.”
You can follow Ivuka on Twitter: @IvukaArtsKigali
Image Credits: Ivuka Arts Kigali http://www.ivukaarts.com/