ABN 10 Questions

Aklile Tsige /ABN/

To some people, art appears very impractical. They don’t understand its purpose and while they may feel a given work is “interesting” or “pretty,” they fail to grasp why it moves people. Regardless of its exact form, however, art serves as vital nourishment to the human spirit, using it to explore our world and the truth’s that more practical endeavors can sometimes obscure.

Beauty in and of itself serves as indelible testament to the importance of art. A beautiful painting or song creates a sense of happiness in the viewer, filling his soul with wonder and contentment. Furthermore, such beauty may inspire the observer to have a more positive effect on the world around him, or to seek out similar scenes in the real world to further enrich his life. Picasso once said that “art is a lie that reveals the truth.” A skilled artist can bring out hidden or obscure truths.

Our Editor-in-Chief Aklile Tsige sat with vise-president of Ethiopian Visual Artists Association, Michael Solomon /Miki Ertale/, who is doing significant jobs with his experimental art specialization, and discussed his experience in the field.

ABN: Tell us a little bit about you self, please?

Michael: I was born and raised in Assela town of the Oromia Regional State. As a child I was highly inspired by societal culture especially those rural women coming to Assela from various parts of the rural Arsi Zone in the region.

ABN: How could you get into visual arts?

Michael: While I was a student at my birth place, Assela, I had the opportunity to attend trainings on the basics of arts or paintings. This indeed paved ways to develop my inner potential in arts. Thus, I tried to do various kinds of paintings, sculptures and other modes of arts. After completing my secondary education I came to Addis Ababa to take entrance exam to pursue my higher education in the field of arts. Having successfully passed the entrance, I joined Ale School of Fine Arts at Addis Ababa University and studied for four years, majoring Art Education and earned my BA degree.

“I have received certificate and financial awards from several governmental and non-governmental institutions for winning posters and logo competitions.”

ABN: Who is / are your source of inspiration for your current professional career?

Michael: My older brother used to do some arts at home when I was a child although my parents were not happy with that. I think he is one of my inspirations. The other one could be World Laureate Artist Afework Tekle and my arts teacher at Assela, Bizuayehu Girma.

ABN: What is your specialization in the field of visual arts?

Michael: Although I majored Art Education, I am more interested in experimental arts that aims to increase awareness in our communities that all art forms matter. Audiences may have difficulty in understanding or engaging with experimental arts. Artists may have difficulty finding an environment in which to be understood and engaged. It’s a kind of artistic work that promotes enjoyment, art therapy and awareness raising activity. For instance, I have managed to participate in awareness creation campaign on road safety and traffic accident prevention events and the like. This trend of arts helps different sections of a society get positive energy in their lives. So, I mostly spend my time doing experimental arts.

ABN: What have you done after completing your study at Ale School of Fine Arts, AAU?

Michael: As I graduated in Arts Education I had to experience what arts Education mean. Thus, I had to teach at some schools in Addis Ababa. So I was first employed by Norwegian School as an art teacher. I worked for a short period of time there, and again I was employed at Gibson School for only a month. I did stay for very short times in both schools just to see into the school environments. You know art requires freedom, but these school environments didn’t give freedom to me. Therefore, I had to quit teaching, and have begun working at my own art studio.

ABN: What do you think are your greatest achievement so far?

Michael: I couldn’t say that I have achieved a lot in my life so far. But since I began this profession I have made attempts to do my best and to help people get enough of my ability. I have received different recognition and awards from various organizations for my magnificent artistic works since I was in high school. Moreover, I have received certificate and financial awards from several governmental and non-governmental institutions for winning posters and logo competitions. I have managed to produce logos of Government University Sport Association and Association for Peoples with Disability.

“I dream to establish a very popular and globally recognized branding company that aims to promote Ethiopian unique cultural value and generate foreign currency to the country.”

ABN: You know artists are said to be very close to the society. What social responsibility have you discharged so far?

Michael: I’m always ready to help individuals and institutions that are working on humanitarian and social development. I tried to help humanitarian organizations such as “Mekedonia” and Niya Foundation which is a center for helping autistic children. My aim is to support these organization and the people out there though arts therapy which eases and relieves different psychological and physical disorders or discomforts. Moreover, I have also organized art contest among elementary school students in line with the construction of the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. I will keep on doing this.

ABN: What group or solo art exhibitions have you so far displayed?

Michael: Actually I have not conducted a solo exhibition so far. But I had group exhibitions with different young and veteran artists at different venues like the Sheraton Addis and Goethe Cultural Institute of Germany, and also an exhibition in Qatar.

ABN: What are your favorite pastimes?

Michael: Frankly speaking, I don’t have pastime activities. What impresses and amuses me is only my job: painting or sculpture. Whenever I get sufficient time I sometimes enjoy visiting the needy, and the elderly people in churches and monasteries. I like to help such disadvantaged people in different parts of the country.

ABN: What’s your vision in life?

Michael: Getting stronger and stronger in my profession, I have plans to unveil and rediscover a lot of artifacts and gift articles that are uniquely Ethiopian. You know, ..eee… we are losing our own cultural heritages knowingly or unknowingly; we don’t add value to our artifacts, and even we don’t try to keep it contemporary. I want to work on this. ThusI dream to establish a very popular and globally recognized branding company that aims to promote Ethiopian unique cultural value and generate foreign currency to the country.

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