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“COLOURS OF TURKEY, CRADLE OF CIVILIZATIONS”

 OPENING: 15th December, 2017- 1st February 2018

Makerere University Institute of Heritage Conservation and Restoration is presenting the “Colours of Turkey, the Cradle of Civilizations” Exhibition. Turkey is the cradle of civilizations, a melting pot of cultures connecting Asia and Europe. She hosted a 12 thousand year history of humanity in her territory. Turkey has a splendid climate embracing four seasons together, and possesses a nature housing all tones of green and blue as well as all the colors. 13 great civilizations as well as historical and cultural values belonging to 3 religions exist in Turkey.

For thousands of years in the lands of Anatolia many different civilizations have come to life and have laid to rest eternally under the Anatolian earth. These are such civilizations as Hittites, Phrygians, Lydians, Ionians, Urartu, Persians, Byzantines, Macedonians, Romans, Turks. Many excavations have been carried out on these lands as layers upon layers of these civilizations have left behind breathtaking artifacts. These artifacts are in the shape of statues, mosaics, wall reliefs, pillars, mansions, churches etc.

Scholars have traced back the history of mosaics as back as the forth millenium BC to the Temple of Uruk in Mesopotamia, the time of the Sumerians which are a Turkish civilization from Central Asia, and the earliest known civilization on earth.
The show presents six remarkable artists from Turkey. The artworks on show comprise of paintings and photographs, these visually narrate the rich history and civilization of Turkey.

Sedef Yavuzalp is married to Ambassador Osman Yavuzalp and the mother of two boys. She graduated from the American College in Paris with a BA in International Affairs with the degree of “magna cum laude” in 1987. She received an MA from the Universite Libre de Bruxelles with a degree of “distinction” in international and strategic relations. Despite her busy work schedule as an Ambassador, she has reflected her love for art to her paint brush at every occasion since 2012. She is inspired by the rich and deep-rooted history and culture of Turkey as well as the history, culture and mythology of the East African region.

Mine Ülger married with 1 boy. She reflects her talent to the toile in Turkey and Uganda. Her paintings have been exhibited in various competitions. She was a student of very prominent Turkish painters in 1994.

Hasan Pekmezci
was born in Konya, in 1945. He is married with 2 children. His teachers and art teachers discovered his talent in art. He passed the exams of Painting Seminar of Istanbul Çapa Teachers’ College in the first position, in 1965. Istanbul was an arts center during these years, too. Then, he worked at a little village school in Urfa.

ükran Pekmezci
was born in Çankırı, in 1946. Her painting teacher in primary school guided her for painting. She passed the exams of Çapa Teachers College. She graduated in 1965 and became a primary school teacher in a village. In 1967, she entered İzmir Buca Education Institute Painting Department in the 1st place. She worked as a painting teacher in different schools in Turkey. After retirement, she has taught in the Atelier of Printmaking at Gazi University until 2000.

Hüseyin Yıldırım
was born in Ankara in 1962, he graduated from Faculty of Training, Painting Teaching Program, Gazi University, in 1983. He served as a painting teacher at various secondary schools and Yunus Emre Training College in Eskişehir on 1985-1991.

Önder Aydın
graduated from the Gazi Institute of Education in 1979 majoring in Art Teaching. Later he completed his Bachelor of Arts degree. He worked as an art teacher for many years. He painted children’s books. He is currently a member of the Association of Plastic Arts (PSD), the Ankara Contemporary Arts Foundation (CEGSAV) and a founding member of the Art Again Group.

We call upon you to come and be part of this wonderful visual trip to TURKEY.

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COMING UP! Friday 17th November, 2017 at 4PM: FASHION PARADE

”Beyond Fashion”

The fashion industry is increasingly becoming an important feature of Uganda’s’ social and political fabric legislation on dress code especially for civil servants has in the recent past become a topical issue. As a segment of cultural industry, fashion has moved from periphery to the center.

Fashion is more than promoting smartness and a positive image of ones self; fashion is at the forefront of enabling society get a deeper awareness of it self and its role in contributing to national development and identity.

In 1995, MTSIFA realized the importance of fashion. This led to its introduction in the curriculum. We are indeed taking fashion seriously as a medium that not only contributes to new knowledge but also help to raise the profile of Makerere University as an academic institution and also Uganda’s’ image internationally solid  as a country respectful of its tradition inherited from the past, within a context of modern developments. Motifs from social life, culture, wild life etc form a solid base for fashion innovations at MTSIFA.

One of the key elements in the course of training fashion designers at MTSIFA is to show case fashion innovations through fashion shows. A course of fashion design would be incomplete without the inclusion of a fashion show.

ALL THE LIGHT WE CAN SEE

”All the light we can see ” in an artists’ perspective

Enjoy an essay by Banga Simon.

This is Braille-and-Art: Illustration as a platform for the Blind to access public monuments in Kampala.

In September 2008, Uganda ratified the Convention on Rights of Persons with Disability. Consistent with this document, the government of Uganda has taken significant strides towards adopting laws and policies that guarantee the rights of the visually challenged to access public spaces.

However, this access has not been realized with respect to public culture and art. For example, all the monuments located in Kampala’s central business district are not accessible for the blind. It is for this reason that I produced the artworks I have put in this exhibition. I have raised a question as to whether Kampala’s monuments, that are visual in nature and thus inaccessible for the visually challenged, can be rendered accessible using illustration as a tool.

To address this question, I explored five monuments located within Kampala’s central business district. I purposively selected these monuments because they are important in the history of Uganda; they represent the trajectory of the country’s history. They include: the Independence Monument, the World War II Memorial, the Stride, the Centenary Park Monument and the Journey.

 

I have deployed my experience as a professional illustrator. I usually create illustrations focusing on images that communicate messages. I have observed that to achieve this objective, I have had to produce illustrations in two ways: (i) illustrations that done using simple line work with flat color imaging; and (ii) illustrations that done using well developed forms enhanced with attributes of traditional drawing.

I have used these two modes of illustration to inquire into the nature of the meanings attributed to reality especially with respect images made accessible to the visually challenged. I have learnt certain new things in the process:

First, Gábor Üveges (2007) is convinced that mastering traditional drawing techniques allows one to depict ideas about forms in a visual language and, in so doing, one avoids the problems of being ambiguous and long-winded that comes with verbal communication. In this exhibition I integrated traditional drawing techniques through illustration and transformed sculptures into forms that are not ambiguous and winded. This directness of message was important to render public monuments in Kampala’s central business district accessible for the visually challenged.

Second, Durand (2001) observed that expressiveness, precision, and simplicity underscore the broad appeal in drawing while the versatile role of strokes conveys form, tone, shape, texture and style that derive from both the richness and the difficulty of the medium. In this exhibition I have explored these attributes to produce my artworks.

It is against this background that I transcribed Kampala’s public monuments into forms that can be accessed by the visually challenged. My project was part of a bigger project titled Kampala’s Public Monuments/Allegories of Exclusion: Perspectives of Governance, Human Rights and Development. I started the process by looking at selected monuments as aesthetic objects: the fine arts. To achieve this, I experimented with different materials, surfaces, and tools ranging from the camera, pencils, pen and ink, charcoal pencils, colored pencils, crayons, water color, bond paper and scrambled paper to produce fine art.

Later, I re-directed my energy to experiment with textures targeting the aesthetic tastes of a visually challenged audience. I interrogated illustration as a way of transcribing selected monuments into tactile representations. I produced a kind of ‘brailled art’.

 

The artworks in this exhibition cover this whole process. Some of the works were done using traditional art media. Others were developed using the stylus, Perkins Braille machine, thermoform machine and computer software as tools to create Kampala’s public monuments in braille. I also used different materials including threads, bond paper, banana fibers, paper mash, bee/ paraffin wax, paper mash, style form and egg shells to achieve different textures and tactile effects. In the process, I expanded the scope of my illustration beyond traditional methods and techniques. I produced monuments that I discussed with a purposively selected visually impaired audience at Humura Hotel on 21-22 May 2017. I used examined the information I obtained from this discussion to produce more work which I presented for examination before I graduated with an MA(Fine Art) in January 2017. This exhibition thus also serves to celebrate my career and personal development.

 

Let me now say this in conclusion: as artists we can produce images that allow us to step outside our own reality and experience another time, place or people. By using illustration as a tool to render Kampala’s public monuments accessible for the visually challenged we can widen the possibilities of this experience. We can move from our comfort zone and experience the challenges faced by Persons with Disability as they struggle to access the art we make and place in public spaces. That way we can find ways of resolving such challenges of access as we widen the scope of Uganda’s contemporary art to include audiences whose aesthetic tastes do not primarily depend on the visuality of art.

 

REFERENCES

Ayoubi, Lida. 2011. “Human Rights Perspectives on Access of the Blind, Visually Impaired and Other Reading Disabled Persons to Copyrighted Materials.” Master´s Programme in International Human Rights Law and Intellectual Property Law, Faculty of Law, Lund University.

Cutsforth, Thomas Darl. 1951. The blind in school and society: A psychological study: American Foundation for the Blind.

Department of International Development. 2013. Disability in Uganda.

Farahani, Mukisa. 2015. “Museveni gives away Nakivubo.” Daily Monitor, 30 March. http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Museveni-gives-away-Nakivubo/688334-2669914-vebm4e/index.html.

Groce, Nora, and JF Trani. 2011. “Disability and the Millennium Development Goals.”  United Nations Publication.

Nyombi, Chrispas, and Moses Wasswa Mulimira. 2012. “The Rights of Persons with Disabilities: A Review of Employment Laws in Uganda.”

Tamale, Sylvia. 2004. “Introducing Quotas: Discourse and Legal Reform in Uganda.”  The Implementation of Quotas: African Experiences, Johannesburg: International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance:38-45.

ALL THE LIGHT WE CAN SEE

 

AN EXHIBITION OF ARTWORKS IN WHICH PUBLIC MONUMENTS IN KAMPALA HAVE BEEN RENDERED ACCESSIBLE FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITY.

27 OCTOBER – 15 NOVEMBER 2017,

Opening at 5pm.

 

Makerere Institute of Heritage Research and Conservation is presenting the All the Light We Can See Exhibition curated by Angelo Kakande. The show presents works done under the project entitled Kampala’s Public Monuments/Allegories of Exclusion: Perspectives of Governance, Human Rights and Development. Funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, this project unfolded a research agenda through which selected national monuments were rendered accessible to the persons with disabilities (PWDs). Being part of this research project, Simon Banga (a graduate student from CEDAT), Lodovic Frank Ssentamu and Ernest Mukwaya (undergraduate students of architecture from CEDAT) produced work on devising ways of rendering Uganda’s public art accessible to PWDs. The exhibition showcases interventions through which art, art history, disability studies, culture, policy and the law interact to widen the audience of Uganda’s contemporary art.

Makerere Campus Girls in view of Womanhood and HIV/AIDS

Sculptures Exhibition by:
Dr Lilian Mary Nabulime – 2017 Opening: 7th September at 5pm

Young women have higher opportunities to join the university and if well mentored do develop an idealized conception of becoming a successful women in the future. Obtaining a University degree highly sets them a foundation to success in life.  Many African women grow up in cultures where marriage and motherhood are emphasized as the primary goals in life. Thus it is important to have role models or female mentors who embody academic achievement. Dr. J. K. Aggrey, mentioned that, “if you educate a man you educate an individual, but ifyou educate a woman you educate a nation.”  Thus Luke (2001) claims that: to deny women the structural and ideological support they need to obtain full support and equal access, participation, and share of the rewards in the professions of their choice is to deny and impoverish society as a whole. The Task Force on Higher Education and Society (2000) reveals that disadvantaged groups, whether they are racial,linguistic, or religious groups in specific societies, or women almost everywhere, find it difficult to compete in higher education. They usually receive inadequate primary and secondary schooling making thus further progress in the educational system much harder to achieve.

My idea to develop the sculpture was motivated by Dr. J. K. Aggrey’s quotation. Since Makerere University campus is one the highest institute of learning in Uganda, I wondered what thoughts the girls have regarding encounters and privileges they have at the University. I usually observe some of the girls as I teach and mentor them. A few of them pass by office and we have a chat which ranges on various issues namely academics, social, religion, challenges and accomplishment. This steered me to assess their views on Womanhood and develop sculptures that reflected their beliefs,

Sculptures on Display

My earlier exhibition in 2015-16 was titled “Art in Open Office” held at KfW Office Kampala. The concept was to develop work for the “office”. In this exhibition am returning to my passion for found objects in wood and other materials like the nuts and aluminum cans. The wood was not over worked as I allow it to retain roughness and its natural forms and color. I usually beautify the sculpture with colour, burn the wood, strengthen/decorate it with metal sheets of aluminum or copper. The additions and reductions exposes/highlights hidden forms and usually the human forms have lips that are colored with bright red that draws the viewers.

This exhibition’s concept explores selected celebrated thoughts on woman hood and HIV/AIDS as the most affected are the youth and women (UNAIDS 2017). The techniques used in this exhibition differ. The girls have neither been adorned with bright coloured lips nor the forms of the sculptures enhanced with colours. The sculptures have been left with their natural colours with the aim to reflect the thoughts of the campus girls.

The sculptures are in 6 series: Fifteen miniature fired clay portraits with in 6.5×3.5×3 inches tilted “Expressionism”. The second group consists of fifteen found wood sculptures with in 60x30x30cm, titled, “Uniqueness of campus girls”. The third group has ten flat reliefs of 8x8inches, titled “Dreams and consequences” the fourth group are ten wood relief with nailed aluminum cans and metal nuts of 2x1xfeetx1inch, titled “Campus girls life styles”.  The fifth group is big sculptures ranging from 1meter high titled “Reflections”. The last series is a conceptual sculpture of mixed media titled, “Wildness”. The sculpture will reflect on the freedom the campus girls have and yet if misused lead to un desired consequences.

 

COMMON HORIZONS

OPENING
THURSDAY 13TH JULY,2017
AT 5PM

Konrad Adenauer, first President of post-second World War Germany famously said that we all live under the same sky, but we don’t all have the same horizons. When it comes to vision, our perspectives can be as diverse as our fingerprints. However, in art, we can easily contend that we share a common horizon and speak the same language, albeit with different accents.“Common Horizons” is the theme of the group art exhibition consisting of four artists of different persuasions. Their experience in the field ranges from three to fifteen years between them, meaning their aesthetic appeal could be defined as well as separated by this age gap. This notwithstanding, the subjectivity latent in art may not necessarily draw bold lines between their works, as the show will prove it, which puts art, unlike other professionals, on a level plain for all.  The young artists seek to demonstrate that in art, a common horizon is possible.

The Exhibiting Artists:

ROSHANI MADINA SILIBANI

Roshani is a Uganda-Indian artist who has been actively practicing painting since 2014 when she graduated with a diploma in Industrial Art and Design from the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) in Kampala Uganda, specializing in painting and textile design. She is likely more inclined to her Ugandan roots, having been born and bred in the Ugandan traditions and yet she seems not lost on her Indian ancestry. This duo-ethnicity has caught her in a delicate balancing act between two different artistic accents which she is trying to apply herself to nearly in equal measure and her themes and technical approaches can attest to an attempt at appeasing her double identity through her art. `

PAUL SENDAGIRE

Sendagire is a print-maker who has been active for the past decade and a half, working with the technique of dark to light, with some intermediary tones.He likes to talk that much and whenever in a group of people, Sendagire usually stands out because he wants to be heard. As if that is not enough, even while in his quiet studio with no one present he will stop at nothing to continue telling his fictitious stories using images. He says he is largely inspired by social commentary, portraying the mundane happenings around him but always with a comic tweak to it. He never tells things as they are. He will try to look at the angle that the rest of us are unable to see.

MAYANJA RICHARD WEAZHER

With only about half a decade in practice, Weazher is fast gaining awareness of his artistic sensibilities like an adolescent discovering his numerous sensual changes. However, unlike the adolescent that may feel rather confused and lost in the new bodily transformations, Weazher is firmly getting to grips with his new bearings and using this heightened consciousness to carve out his niche and destiny of choice. Weazher has, in the recent past, already been exhibited in several galleries in Europe and now Uganda and he is fast rising in academia as a tutor at Kyambogo University and Masters student at the Akershus University College of Applied Arts in Oslo, Norway.

TINDI RONNIE CHRIS

Tindi has been a practicing painter in Uganda for the last several years, occasionally punctuating it with sculpture wrought in recycled materials. He likes to refer to his works as illustrations of his dreams on canvas. His overarching themes concern hope and beauty using acrylic. It is wrought with forms that are common in the natural world, such as humans, animals, laced with cultural beliefs and the relationship between man and nature. His rendering has a tendency towards Expressionism and Cubism. He currently works with bitenge cut-off fused with paint as collages on canvas. Tindi belongs to Angavu Art Studio, a collective located in Bukoto, Kampala.

 

OBJECT OF THE MONTH

                

              #1. UNTITLED
BY MULINDWA PETER

Mulindwa Peter is one of the second generation Makerere artists who were active in the 70 and 80s. Like many of his contemporaries he responded in a specific way to the politically repressive periods of the 70 and 80s. For fear of espionage, he chose to couch his criticism for the corrupt leaders in anecdotal subjects. In an interview with G. Kyeyune, Mulindwa confirmed that during the late seventies and early eighties, churches and religious symbols were used to express disgust with what he called “Aminism”—Aminism being a direct reference to Amin’s misrule (A. Kakande- PhD Thesis – 2008).

Mulidwa was a student at Makerere School of Fine Art from 1967 and graduated in 1971. He returned to teach as well as pursue his masters in painting from 1977 – 1982. He however left without completing.

Mulindwa’s work is composed of mythical figures rendered in a limited three dimensionality. He uses pointillism as a way of rendering shapes and forms. The work we are presenting (untitled) demonstrates Mulindwa’s skill in assembling images to narrate a story, a Makerere tradition of mural painting (visual broadsheets). Produced in 1982 as part of a larger corpus of work submitted for his masters the degree whose title was– Art in Toro: Magicology and religion, Mulindwa investigated the relationship between Christianity and the local religions of Toro, his native region.

On every June 3rd, Uganda celebrates the Uganda Martyr’s day. It is a day and indeed a month of spiritual fulfillment and we thought it appropriate to choose Mulindwa, whose work focuses on spiritual narratives to extend our reflection on the modern religion in the context of local life. The painting we are presenting for object of the month, Mulindwa reflects on the duality of the   past and the present. Mulindwa argues that modern education and religion have not erased people’s attachment to traditional religion — it is still efficacious. In the centre-left of the mural are symbols of modern education. They include books, a pallet and brushes, pens, scrolls and a figure dressed in graduation gown. This section of the painting is directional with ladders and arrow leading us to the upper left. Mythical creatures populate the top part walking across the spread. It has been a long but successful hunting day, so the monkey figure seem to intimate. There is struggle at the bottom of the painting—a sword is piercing and wounding a potentially dangerous serpent. In both Christianity and ancestral worship, a serpent is a sign of the devil. The dove above it signifies peace and tranquility. Its proximity here ensures control and suffocation of the evil. Cowry shells are interspersed throughout the painting. They were once valuable as currency– today they are valuable as materials for a modern artist—artists who insist on using the past as building blocks.

Note: Mulindwa’s works with similar imagery of reptilian creatures with claws, sharp knives include:
Owls Drums Death- 1982, Untitled (Tormented by a Vicious Attack); 1970s.

Mukyala Hasifa

References
George Kyeyune PHD thesis – 2003, Angello Kakande PHD thesis – 2008, visiting the Makerere permanent collection storage and School of Fine Art registration forms archive- 1970s.

 

OBJECT OF THE MONTH

COMING UP!!!

Makerere Art Gallery—Institute of Heritage Conservation and Restoration (IHCR) is a home to a rich collection of historical art works which date as far back as 1950s. The collection has progressively grown to over 6000 artworks, acquired from both students and staff of the Makerere School of Industrial and Fine Arts. The art works reveal to us aspects of our political, cultural and social history conceived in a range of materials and processes.  Given that Makerere was a regional university attracting students from East Africa and beyond, the Makerere Gallery collection is of more than local significance.

In order to promote interest in the Gallery and its activities, the Gallery management has come up with a new idea which we have termed, Object of the Month. In the Object of the Month, an art work is identified, extensively researched, written about and presented to the public.  In this documentation, the origin of the art work and its life in the collection will be established, the artist who made it will be identified and interviewed  (if still alive), icon-lab sessions will be held relevant scholars and the public will be invited to review and generate information about the art work which will be compiled and later published.

Affirmative Art Exhibition- workshop and closure.

Affirmative Art Exhibition and workshop has been running for the past two weeks and will be closing on Saturday 3rd June. Come and paint your dream with us.

Affirmative Art –New perspectives in empowering through art
Article by George Kyeyune.

In 2008, Makerere Art Gallery hosted an exhibition to celebrate Women’s’ Day. In that exhibition we went beyond the routine displaying works of art –we wanted the exhibition to be more interactive. On a canvas of 8X6 feet, visitors to the exhibition were asked to write, draw or paint anything that they thought brought them closer to the rhetoric of women’s emancipation. The result was a display of dazzling colors and texts loaded with passionate and intimate stories about our mothers and sisters.  Expressions of the centrality of women in participants’ lives were loud and clear. But more importantly, I realized that the activity enabled a deeper reflection on women as mothers and a focused appreciation of their contribution to society. —- An empowering experience indeed. Unfortunately, there was no follow up on this project and canvas is gathering dust, yet to be deconstructed.

It was a delight to listen to Erick’s project of Affirmative Art because I knew that, even much more than women’s exhibition canvas, it had immense possibilities.  While this canvas solicited for opinions of participants about their mothers etc.., the Affirmative Art project is designed to bring about personal empowerment. Some of us have been privileged to build our careers in art. This however does not mean that ‘non artists’ have no access to the benefits of art making. Indeed, we are all born with some competencies in art production and therefore we can use these competencies however limited to speak our mind. Eirick reminded me something fundamentally important. He said  –and I am paraphrasing– “art is a medium/tool that can give you the liberty to reveal yourself in a personal and honest way”— an observation which I entirely agree with given that – as the old saying goes—a picture is worth more than a thousand words.

If art is accessible to everyone—at least at a basic level, it can then be a vehicle to transmit messages about ourselves and in the case of Affirmative Art, self-empowerment. Affirmative Art according to Eirick, is about dreaming and following your dream to the end. It is about our future and making a promise to do whatever it takes to achieve our dreams—dreams which are of course achievable. To that end, it is essential that we make a self-assessment of who we realistically are and what we have so far achieved and then proceed to dream. Some people have a clear image of their dream houses, dream farm or whatever. When these aspirations are scribbled on a surface, they are visualized and, it is possible to reflect on them and they get even closer when text is added and integrated to become part of the art work. Drawing is freer than talking as Eirick reminds.

Eirick recommends that a team of four or five people is constituted and produce a painting or any other convenient art work. They discuss their hopes and fears. They scribble down their aspiration and on a shared canvas where they reveal their dreams. Once formed, the team should stick together and on a regular basis, members update each other on their progress and challenges if any. The internal cohesion comes from the regular sharing and the inherent support within that group.  They form as it were, an Affirmative Art club—a platform for critical self-appraisal and collective dialogue. That, art is able to transform their lives for the better, is by now a foregone conclusion.

Affirmative Art is a project whose relevance and value in Uganda cannot be over emphasized. Thousands of businesses are started every year but only a handful survive their first anniversary.  Affirmative Art can go a long way in saving many of those fledgling ideas and ensure their survival. Uganda indeed desperately needs Affirmative Art given the high levels of unemployment. What Eirick is introducing is innovation that is designed to prepare people of all ages, to embrace and benefit economically, emotionally, spiritually and physically.

Beyond the social and economic empowerment platform, I also know that for those with a passion and interest in art, Affirmative Art introduces yet another approach to art making. We are used to paintings with a singular voice and one signature. We are now talking about multiple voices (when participants work together as a team) and the final product exhibits a variety of styles, emphases and commitments. In there lies the evidence of love, mutual respect and support as well as appreciation of our gifts.

It is an honor and privilege for the Institute of Heritage Conservation and Restoration to host Affirmative Art in action. I am confident that Affirmative Art will not leave us the same, besides, I speculate, it will suggest other possibilities in art for the benefit of all of us.

AFFIRMATIVE ART EXHIBITION

Opening on May 16th at 5pm.
Affirmative Art  empowers dreams in East Africa

by Eirik Jarl Trondsen and Sika Foyer

“The greatest tragedy in life is not death, but life without purpose”,by Myles Munroe

Do you know what you are here for? Have you thought about what you would like to become or what you would like to accomplish in the future?

It may sound like a simple question, but the answers may be as baffling as Dr. Myles Munroe’s quotation above. It turns out most of us actually have blurred visions of our lives and our futures while a few others simply do not have any idea whatsoever. Do you know that living without a vision or a goal leads to frustrations and under-achievement? One will most likely fall for whatever comes one’s way and live according to the whims and expectations of other people, families, friends, and of the society in general.

The good news is that there is a way to live our lives with a purpose. We need to have specific goals and visions and identify ways to fulfill these goals/visions. These life visions and goals are also called dreams. The Affirmative Art group has taken it upon themselves to help others discover and empower their life dreams using creative methods. Working under the banner of Affirmative Art, the team is spearheaded by Eirik Jarl Trondsen, the founder and Norwegian aid executive-turned artist/activist. Other team members include Khalid Njowa from Mombasa, and Kiffe Yoweri from Uganda.

Less than a year ago, the mention of the phrase “Affirmative Art” raised eyebrows even among professional artists in Uganda, and for a good reason. The term “Affirmative Art” was hitherto unheard of in the established aesthetic nomenclature. Now,“Affirmative Art” is spreading far and wide to many corners of East Africa as more and more people embrace the idea of opening the latent possibilities within their natural potential and learning how to realize them in a conscious manner. It is also a way to make art directly useful in one’s life, widening the scope of art and making it accessible to all.

Affirmative Art stresses one simple fact of life: we have to know who we are now in order to know who we want to become in the future. Affirmative Art has created a simple procedure that can be used by people of all walks of life regardless of their educational background, social status, and religious affiliation.

The initiation phase of “Affirmative Art “ is based on a triangle exercise. The purpose of the exercise is to identify the 3 cornerstones of who you are and who you are becoming, which include: (1) your supporters, (2) your achievements, and (3) what you love doing, with a self-portrait symbolizing you in your current situation.

The triangle exercise is a personal/individual exercise done in a group and then shared with the group members. As a matter of fact, the sharing aspect is a key essential in all the Affirmative Art steps.

Affirmative Art Steps

Step I – First Awareness

Affirmative Art recommends using the triangle exercise to identify who you currently are, who your supporters are, what your current  achievements are, and what you love doing. The triangle exercise will be discussed in the group to get feedback from the group members. This will lead to the actual Affirmative Art work

Step II – Affirmative Artwork

Draw or paint what you want to have in your life (your dreams). Any material available to use for the drawing and painting is ok, but markers are recommended when working on paper because they are less messy.  Painting on canvas is also permissible but might be messier and less accessible.

Do not let material issues distract you, use whatever is available to you because the creative process is what matters the most.

The artwork should speak loud and clear to you.  It should be a symbol or a description of your dream (dreams).   For some, this may be an abstract drawing; for others, it could be an image of family, friends, a house, nature, and/or a type of profession or education.   It may contain words or a combination of words and images.

Step III – Private Exhibition/Display of the Affirmative Artwork

One other essential step that is useful is to hang the Affirmative artwork in a key place where you spend a lot of time.This could be your bedroom, kitchen or office, etc.This allows you to see it as often as possible and remind yourself about who you are, who you want to become, who your supporters are and your current achievements.  You could also consider using the artwork as a background screen shot/photo on your phone or computer.

Step IV – Action and Alignment

The artwork should give you directions.The next step is to live in alignment with your dreams and purpose as defined in the artwork.  The Action Steps – living in alignment- may include you getting a mentor, asking somebody for help, taking a job in a field related to your dream (paid or as a volunteer), changing your clothes, reconsidering and changing your friends, considering or identifying books you must read.  The Action Steps need to be concrete to bring you closer to your dreams.

Also, part of “living in alignment” that you should not forget is to seek advice from the Affirmative Art Team to stay aligned with your dreams, and rework your artwork (as often as possible) with your group, using the group’s feedback to make your dreams as concrete as possible.

The Affirmative Art Team is constantly on the move empowering dreams through Affirmative Art. To date, the team has held numerous Affirmative Art workshops with thousands of youth in Uganda, including places like Kitgum, Kampala, Mubende, Mitiyana, Fort Portal, Gulu, and Mbale. Several areas in Kenya have been covered as well, including places like Kisumu, Homa Bay, Nakuru, Nairobi, Athi River, Voi, Mombasa and Diani.

The Affirmative Art’s mission is to spread Affirmative Art to the world using every tool at their disposal, including audiovisual and social media. This effort is spearheaded at the A-lab, is the home of Affirmative Art. It is located at Nagenda Academy of Art and Design (NIAAD) along Entebbe road, in Uganda. Here Affirmative Art is taught as a class to create more awareness among students about their vision for their life, and how education is one tool for getting closer to the dream. It is also the base for a number of experimental Affirmative Art projects, like Affirmative clothing “wear your dream” and Affirmative pottery, new style Affirmative paintings etc.

Worthy to mention, Eirik Jarl Trondsen, the founder facilitated several Affirmative Art workshops in USA, where, as a 2015/2016 Special Program for Urban and Regional Studies (SPURS) Fellow, he first introduced the Affirmative Art concept to the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston. In May 2016,Eirik and a newly formed USA based Affirmative Art team went on a tour from Boston, on the East Coastto Los Angeles, on the West Coast. The US tour engaged and empowered hundreds of individual’s dreams. MIT made a film about the tour, which is available on YouTube.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JbY35vmghQ8&t=71s

Affirmative Art is an initiative that can proudly be attributed to East Africa and it has the potential to spread to, and be adopted by, the rest of the world as a new movement for the realization of individual and community dreams. Eirik and company has effectively underlined the gist of the British author, John Foster’s adage, which states: “A man without decision of character can never be said to belong to himself… He belongs to whatever can make captive of him.”

 

 

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