Rwandan Art – Creating Art to Change Society

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Kurema, Kureba, Kwiga (translated: To Create, To See, To Learn) is an expression-focused, public art project using visual and street arts to address social issues in Rwanda. Its aim is to further the world of Rwandan art. Read more about the initiative here.

Umuhire Isaac is a contemporary Rwandan artist who dabbled with post-impressionism but is always adapting and evolving. His work addresses issues of society and promotes traditional values. He also explores other themes and genres in the Rwandan art world. Here is his story.

 

Umuhire Isaac, a contemporary Rwandan artist

Umuhire Isaac, a contemporary Rwandan artist

 

My Entry into Kurema, Kureba, Kwiga

I found myself at Ivuka Arts studio at the right time, as the Kurema team was discussing a new project. They offered me an opportunity to join. This was a great thing, because the values of the Kurema initiative align with my personal thinking. It is about art making and what I want to achieve with my art.

Rwandans are not the most aware and appreciative of visual arts. There are not many people visiting art studios or galleries, so the reach of works of Rwandan art is very limited. A solution to this challenge is to help take the arts to the next level. By working with Kurema in public, more Rwandans will become aware of Rwandan art.

I’ve learned that people would share constructive feedback, raise awareness, and increase appreciation for the arts overall. I really think sharing art with more people through Kurema helps move the landscape of Rwandan art forward.

As for myself, I have been doing murals and graffiti before I joined Kurema. But being part of this team has introduced different things for me and opened new opportunities. I think it’s really important and interesting. When we do workshops, we get to know each other and learn new skills.  For each of our mural projects, our team comes together and we sit, create, and share ideas together. That is always a good process for artists who otherwise create works independently.

All in all, the project is inspiring, and I believe it will help me take my work to the next level. My hope is that, one day, someone will see a piece of art that I’ve made, and will be touched by it, inspired by it, and derive new ideas from what I’ve created. I have a lot of wishes and dreams for my art, and for Rwandan art in general, to be recognised globally, and by creating public art now with Kurema, we will get there.

 

One of Isaac's paintings

One of Isaac’s paintings

 

Rwandan Art as Advocates of Social Change

When we take our work into communities, we also gather the attention of a lot of people who are excited to see what we are doing. They talk about it with other people and share our message further.

Recently, we worked in an area known as Kimisagara, a poverty-stricken urban neighbourhood in the capital city center. We created two murals about youth protecting their future by fighting against drugs, staying in school, being healthy, and so on. We created a beautiful piece of Rwandan art that got people’s attention.

When someone is attracted by the colours and he understands the message in our mural, it meets our goal. When some child, who uses drugs or have problems at school, comes to see our murals, he may start thinking about the meaning. I hope he will be encouraged to eventually change his behaviour.

Change starts here at this level. We have a chance to share important messages with others. We are doing our works of Rwandan art with a social change purpose in mind.

 

What do you see?

What do you see?

 

Biography

Isaac is 24-year-old artist practicing from Ivuka Arts Kigali. He studied Industrial Arts and Design at St Lawrence University in Kampala, Uganda.  More of his work can be seen on his Facebook

 

 

Interview credit: Judith Kaine for Kurema, Kureba, Kwiga

Photography credit: Sarine Arslanian for Kurema, Kureba, Kwiga