News / Africa

Young Kenyan Artists Face Tough Market

Young Kenyan Artists Face Tough Marketi
|| 0:00:00
X
August 21, 2012 3:53 PM
Contemporary art in Kenya is facing challenges. Art education in schools is lacking, and the art market, dominated by tourists and expatriates, tends to stifle experimentation. Despite this, two young artists are producing innovative work, encouraged by an unusual art gallery. Roopa Gogineni reports for VOA from Naibobi.
Roopa Gogineni
NAIROBI — Contemporary art in Kenya is facing challenges. Art education in schools is lacking, and the art market, dominated by tourists and expatriates, tends to stifle experimentation. Despite this, two young artists are producing innovative work, encouraged by an unusual art gallery.

At the Kuona Trust, a visual arts center in a Nairobi suburb, artists work out of converted shipping containers.
 
Kuona's mission is to provide opportunities for its artists to produce world-class art in Kenya.  

"Selling is a really big problem for artists here," noted Slyvia Gichia, the director of the Kuona Trust.  "We don't have a very informed audience in the local scene, unless we're talking about expats or we're talking about tourists coming, so what tends to happen is a lot of artists start to create work for the tourist market, versus just contemporary art."  

Kuona is encouraging experimentation.  Its gallery currently features the conceptual work of Maryann Muthoni.  "As much as we love being in our own studio comfort zones creating, I think we should also have a role in society," Muthoni said.

Muthoni's exhibit is called the Women's Vote.  It addresses the role of Kenyan women in the electoral process and in the country's leadership.

Young Kenyan artists are largely self-taught. Art was dropped from the curriculum in Kenyan schools nearly 10 years ago.  

Renee Mboya is a program coordinator at Kuona, she says that had an impact on young artists. "They come from a more informal background, so mostly artists that have worked previously in 3D and have hardly been exposed to what we consider traditional art, you know, painting on canvas," explained Mboya.

Cyrus Kabiru, a sculptor and painter, grew up making sculptures of eyeglasses from things he found around the house.  "I was a bad example in the community," said Kabiru.  "They used to tell the kids, like my cousins, study hard, or else you'll be like Cyrus!"

Kabiru's sculptures, called "C-STUNNERS," have won international attention. This year, he was selected as a TED Global Fellow. The program brings together young innovators from around the world.  

On a recent trip to meet British collectors and museum curators, he says he met a Kenyan politician who knew little about Kenyan art and he also met some students.
 
"[The students] just shouted, 'Oh I know this guy! Oh he made this this and this!' But they don't know the politician. So I feel like…I am headed somewhere."

Slowly, young visual artists in Kenya are making progress in gaining a local audience.

You May Like

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Mary Sullivan from: Charleston, WV USA
August 22, 2012 3:55 PM
We appreciate your articles and the topics you cover.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid