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Undergraduate Academic Affairs
University of Washington

Unique lens into human rights in Kenya comes from Kenyan artists

Art show coordinated by UW students supports Kenyan village
Dec 18, 2009 Post to digg Post to delicious Post to facebook Post to twitter Post to google Post to stumbleupon Post to technorati Email article link

Human rights in Kenya will be highlighted locally via an art show as a result of an African Studies seminar in Kenya. Students who participated in the study abroad seminar “Human Rights and Social Transformation in Kenya” in Nairobi, Kenya, last summer are coordinating a show and sale of 130 works of art by 15 Kenyan artists.

Named after a piece in the show, “Pause: A Space for New Visions,” aims to “celebrate beauty, engage in cross-cultural connection, and explore how art realizes human rights.” In addition to paintings, prints, and sculpture, acclaimed musicians Kane Mathis/Andrew Oliver Duo and Anzanga will perform. Proceeds from the art sales will go directly to the Ngecha Artists Association, the group of artists in Kenya whose work is featured in the show. Pause: A Space for New Visions takes place Saturday, January 9, 2010, from 7-9 p.m. at Fremont Abbey. Advance tickets are $8 and $10 at the door. Details follow.

Pause by Kenn ArtefactWhile the focus of the seminar in Kenya was human rights, Erin Murphy, a 2005 Honors alumna, current master’s student in the Evans School of Public Affairs and the Jackson School of International Studies and one of the show’s coordinators, says art “is a powerful medium that can and should be used more in the human rights movement.”

Erin and fellow students Meri Bauer, also a graduate student in public affairs and international studies, and Jessica Roswell, an undergraduate student in anthropology, wanted to connect to the artists and bring their work to Seattle to connect local audiences to artists and issues in Kenya.

Students learned of the Ngecha Artists Association on a trip to the village’s arts festival. Fifty artists are members of the association; their work is a personal expression reflecting on the country’s politics and also community-minded. The Association paints public murals in the village that express political themes and highlight human rights issues, educating the community about drug use, the right to health and clean water. As the artists raise funds from sales of their work, they invest it into art classes and community-related art.

“They engage in human rights in a very organic way,” explains Erin. “When they’re painting murals, community members get involved and it becomes a point of conversation in the community for months.”

Watch Erin Murphy talk about the Ngecha Artists Association and the show in this video produced by the College of Arts and Sciences.

Details

Who: Pause: A Space for New Visions, coordinated by University of Washington students. The Kane Mathis/Andrew Oliver Duo and Anzanga will perform.
What: Art show and sale and musical performances
When: January 9, 2010 7-9 p.m.
Where: Fremont Abbey, 4272 Fremont Ave N.
Cost: $8 in advance, $10 at the door. Tickets available through Brown Paper Tickets.

Pause: A Space for New Visions is sponsored by the African Studies Program and the Center for Human Rights at the University of Washington.

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