Monthly Archives: February 2016

An Ethiopian Diary: End of Days and Re-Entry

All good things, as they say, must come to an end.
As my plane takes off out of Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, I listen to a song by a Michigan artist, May Erlewine, written for the people of Ethiopia. “Don’t Forget” is the title. It begins: “I will keep you with me as the city fades out of sight.”
I think of this magical experience to the unknown (to me and most), exotic, lush, tropical, landscapes, with breathtaking vistas and crisp, clean mountain air, with a group of people who are all funny and fun and willing to jump in with both feet in any given situation. Yes, this trip, these people, the whole experience, will be with me forever.
Children yelling out “you, you, you,” and doing their best to keep up with our truck; people seeing their own image, in the form of a photo they can keep, for the first time; a waterfall with the most glorious red flowers.
Nafis Bir, where team members Jane and Carloline would drive by its narrow pass with fright as children; now, it’s majestic and beautiful and nostalgic to them as they show us.
Jumping in and out of the truck countless times to record inspiration as it passed by us. We grabbed it and filtered it through our creativity, and now we, each one of us, processes all of this and makes art.
Thinking of a postcard one of our team members shared with us that read,  “When Artists Come Together a Masterpiece is Born” — that sums up our trip.
And as I see the art, both pouring out of me and coming from Ethiopia, there will be many masterpieces to behold as we take our experiences and turn them into something to benefit kids, to help provide education, literacy and, yes, books. We want to leave behind local language books for kids across Ethiopia; that is the real masterpiece,  the impact we hope to have — that, with your help, we can have!
Stay tuned for information on An Ethiopian Odyssey II: The Exhibitions, coming soon, and click here to learn more!

An Ethiopian Diary: The Final Days (Seeing Artists’ Souls Through Their Work)


The Ethiopian Odyssey II team at Nahosenay’s studio.

Visiting our friends’ studios is a final highlight in an extremely full trip.

First, our team arrives at the studio of Nahosenay Negussie. Gasps could be heard as we entered. His art so alive and vibrantly beautiful. It is one thing to be painting alongside of someone on the road; it’s quite another to enter his studio, filled with finished pieces. It is here in the studio that the full spectrum of an artist is felt, and Nahosenay does not disappoint.


Nahosenay’s work


On the road, when you’re working, conditions are rough, time is limited and your brain is already stretched to capacity with the sights and sounds swirling around you. But for most artists, the magic happens in the studio. You have time to process all the ideas and have all of your supplies at hand. Seeing inside the studio is a special experience.

Our next stop is Yacob Bizuneh’s studio. Here, our minds were stretched and expanded. Yacob is a very modern, contemporary artist. His paintings are supported with video and are exhibited as installations.


Yacob’s work


His current works on our addiction to technology and the oil barrel workers of the Merkato of Addis Ababa make you think about the price we pay for “advancement” and our dependency on oil. Who pays that price? You can’t leave his studio without introspective thought and a nod of respect to the artist.

An Ethiopian Odyssey II: The Exhibition is going to be as magical as the trip itself and the beauty we beheld — just you wait and see. Troy Zaushny and myself have a high bar to reach for, but I think we are up for it!