Rwandan art – How Murals Change Communities

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Kurema, Kureba, Kwiga (translated: To Create, To See, To Learn) is an expression-focused, public art project. It uses 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.

Jean Baptiste Rukundo is a visual artist. He works with paint, mixed media, and sculpture. He is a professional artist and educator of Rwandan art. Below is his story.

 

The Talented Jean Baptiste Rukundo

The Talented Jean Baptiste Rukundo

My Entry into Kurema, Kureba, Kwiga

Public art is an opportunity to share one’s knowledge of art with other people. I feel like I can express my ideas and opinions this way. After understanding the objective behind Kurema, I decided to join.

I’m interested in this as something new for the Rwandan art world. It’s a good place to share my ideas with a bigger audience. I want to share my art with more people.  

Kurema is a good platform for meeting and sharing my work to new audiences. Most of my art is seen within a gallery or studio. These works of public art, on the other hand, are created through the Kurema project and are exhibited outside of it. This way, our works are being shared with people who have no access to Rwandan art.

That, to me, is very important.

 

Rwandan Art by Jean Baptiste Rukundo

Rwandan Art by Jean Baptiste Rukundo

Changing Communities, One Rwandan Art at a Time

When we are making murals, people come and ask what we’re doing. When we explain the purpose and meaning of the images, people get excited. They commend us for doing it, and request that we go and do such a thing somewhere else! That, I think, is enough proof that our work has an impact and that people appreciate Rwandan art.

 I’d like to see Rwandans to seek and understand the meaning behind artworks. Currently, there are few people who look to examine and understand the significance of a piece of Rwandan art. This comes back to the issue of accessibility.

This is a core issue which I hope Kurema can help fix. Our projects are conducted not just in cities and towns, but also in villages, where people have very little access to Rwandan art. We actively seek to increase their interest and appreciation in visual arts and creativity.

From the government, we’d like to see more support towards the arts to simplify procedures to secure permissions for the public works we create. In five years, I hope that artists can express themselves via muraling and public arts more easily, taking less time to get the permissions and approvals.

When people have a better understanding and appreciation of Rwandan art, we’ll be better able to paint freely on walls and to change the look of communities.  

 

Rwandan Art by Jean Baptiste Rukundo

Rwandan Art by Jean Baptiste Rukundo

 

Biography

Jean Baptiste Rukundo is 24 years old, born in Kicukiro, Kigali, Rwanda. He attended the Nyundo school of arts. He has taught art at different schools around the country. When he is not creating artworks, he enjoys playing basketball and listening to classical orchestra music. Follow him on Facebook for his latest works.

 

Interview and Photography credit: Judith Kaine for Kurema, Kureba, Kwiga