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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Women art reveals much at Makerere


Women are more determined than ever to use all means available to drum up for equality
This much is clear, judging by the intensity of the several pieces in an ongoing art exhibition at Makerere Art Gallery. The exhibition, which closes on April 15 but was opened on March 20 to commemorate Womens’ Day, attracted some of the country’s finest female artists.

On display are the cryptic, the beautiful and the austere; all forms of small and big paintings and drawings that attempt to portray the fortitude of the Ugandan woman.

The pieces arouse critical interest because they transcend the obvious girly style of feminine colours and soft tonalities. Their art has so peaked and taken on a demanding element with themes that carry an urgent message.

Such titles like “We are also significant,” “Movers of the world” and “The Struggle begins”, reflect the fears that still grip the Ugandan woman, but also the belief in themselves, and how unfazed they remain in the pursuit of equal rights.

Maria Naita’s “Education is the ladder” and another painting of a little girl with an encouraging note: “Go girl, believe in you and whoever you dream to be,” are some of the pieces that capture the theme of the exhibition – “Increasing Investment in Girls’ Education as a Prerequisite for Development”.

According to exhibitor, Sarah Nakisanze, a woman is “mother earth, a package of knowledge”. Then there’s Jessica’s black and white drawing titled “Child Mother”.
It shows a child passionately suckling its mother’s breast. And a note next to the small framed piece says the 17-year-old artist “hopes that through her art the heart of God opens”.

The viewer might have a good laugh finding a piece titled “Gossip Time” considering that women are viewed as big gossips. There are other adorable ones like Donald Nantagya’s sketches of dancing girls, and a framed portrait that says “a praying mum profits much” and Felix Lubega’s “Mother and Child” in which he used banana fibre on board for the best effect.

The paintings are supplemented with newspaper cuttings of articles on women empowerment, the strength of women and pro girl-child education.

The board in one corner of the gallery shows what intriguing expressionists our women have become, for it’s littered with lucid quips, giving away a great deal about the intimacy, the trust, the love, and all the good things about women, while presenting men as highly chauvinistic and unrepentant subjugators. Overall, the exhibition makes it crystal clear that Uganda’s female artists have learnt to distil their experiences and capture them with a brush on canvas, seducing the world into having a deeper interest in them.

The exhibition is organised by the Margaret Trowell School of Industrial and Fine Arts and Gender Mainstreaming Division, Makerere University.

--Sunday Monitor, April 12, 2009