Thursday, October 12, 2006

Art+Life+Kenya (con't)

Cynthia came by and picked up my quilted wallhanging. I told her the entire story, and she loved it. She was on her way to the African Students Association meeting at the University of Texas, and asked me if she could show my piece there. Of course, I said.

She asked me to send her an email with a description/story of the project -- this story will got next to the art piece in the exhibit. This is what I came up with:

Title: Haba na haba, hujaza kibaba

This quilted wallhanging was made in honour of Anastasia, a bright nine year old girl at the Providence Children's Home who wishes to one day become a veteranarian.

I was inspired for the idea of this quilt by my trip to East Africa in Dec '05 to Jan '06. The scenary stands so vividly in my mind. I wanted to portray the natural beauty that I saw in Africa as well as wanted to include relics of my own journey.

The top portion of the quilt is a kanga that I had acquired on Zanzibar Island, Tanzania. A kanga is a traditional piece of fabric folded in a variety of ways and worn by women in parts of East Africa as clothing. Kangas have a Kiswahili phrase (jina) on the bottom that reflects upon its wearer. I chose the phrase that reads, "Haba na haba, hujaza kibaba", which translates literally as "Little by little, fills the pot." I interpreted this saying as the artists, individually, are contributing something small for this cause; however, collectively, it will amount to something big -- the ability to make a difference. I believe that in life as well -- little things do add up, and collectively, we all can make a difference.

The bottom portion is a scene inspired from my trip. The Kibo peak of Mount Kilimanjaro rises high above the surrounding lands, shadowing Kenya and Tanzania. The elegant giraffes and magical elephants roam the plains of Africa amongst many other beautiful animals. I looked to my photograph collection for inspiration. I transformed the giraffe, elephants, acacia and baobab trees from photos into fabric.

On the bottom left corner on the backside is a Kiswahili phrase that says, "Mambo mazuri hayataki haraka" -- translated as "Good things should not be hastened". It is similar to the proverb, "Stop and smell the roses" -- slow down, enjoy the good things in life.

Amani (Peace),
Marisa Umsawasdi


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