I had a very very interesting day today! Well, thanks to one Gor Soudan, I got an invite to an art writers workshop at the Kuona Trust offices! Sounds wordy huh? I know, I feel so superior right now LOL nway am kidding… The workshop was facilitated by New York -based writer, editor, curator & art blogger Marina Cashdan, trust me you can go ahead and google her! She is really a super cool woman whose life revolves around art and art and did I say art?
I am no art writer but yes I do write stuff that actually get published :-) However, that’s not to say that art is not a fascination that has always haunted me, the good kind! I always find pleasure in viewing art pieces/ exhibitions, because every time I see overly artistic/ strange things or a certain abstract art, I marvel at what the artist who created it must have been thinking, what could have inspired them? I marvel at how they find a lot of intensity in the simplest of art, like just a picture of a sunset but a whole load of stories to tell behind it.
I have then concluded that because I have the ability to appreciate art and to write all the same, why not merge the two? Its however not as easy as it may sound because like any other form of writing, art has its inherent rules. You have to know the art, must have seen quite a diverse lot and actually be able to differentiate between the materials used and the different messages probably passed in different forms of art.
In summary, I learnt that art writing is very subjective. You can’t actually state that the art is X or Y. Art can never be black or white. However, you must state that you see it as X or Y. Do you get the difference? As an art writer you must be able to clearly pass the message that it’s not definitive of how you see it, moreover describe the feelings the art invokes in you, relate them to the outside world, learn more about the artist’s profile, where they live, when they were born, what sort of materials they use in their art and why? Merge all that to create a story that’s wholesome. I know it sounds so complicated yet so simple.
I think the biggest challenge for an art writer is to actually be able to communicate through to different audiences whether or not they are art enthusiasts. A lot of art writers have a tendency of making their written pieces an art by itself making the reader get lost in the texts even before looking at the actual art. A good art writer does not engage so much into the art jargon but instead breaks it down for the reader to comprehend and see the art through the writer’s eyes. If by any chance the reader fails to agree with the writer, the better as that would make them actually get out there and go see the art for themselves.
After the session, I felt inspired to actually walk around the Kuona Trust workshops to visit the various artists at their work places & get a gist of what goes on through a writer’s mind & boy wasn’t that a good idea! I literally had a field day! Among other artists, I met Cyrus Kabiru, a shy but overly talented artist dressed in a funky old grey overall that sort of depicts a scenario of ,”Twende Kazi!” Cyrus refused to tell of his age but one thing that would definitely remain ageless is his eye wear antics that BTW have themes and are just awesome! If I were a musician I would hire all his shades for the funkiest video shoot to ever hail from this side of the Sahara!
As I walk into a different workshop, Yassir Ali, a Sudanese freelance artist is sitting by his messy and artistic table taking a smoke. “Shall I come in?” Of course, he says with a smile so inviting. Having fled from Sudan in 1995, he has since found a home in Kenya. Ali is now married with kids and says that art is more than a career to him. It doesn’t only pay all his bills but satisfies his heart’s love, to paint. Most of his paintings are the Nubian culture inspired. He tells me that creating an art starts with an inspiration, mostly developed from a sketch that he later transforms into a huge mural or otherwise. To see his work, here is: Yassir\’s website
Among the artists who were at the earlier session Mary Collis and her lovely friend whose name I never got said I would be a beautiful piece of art if they drew me :-) Her friend had actually made a sketch of me from the session, I thought that was very artistic of her. I think they are co painters, wonder if there is such a term.. Nway so we all exchanged contacts and they will contact me for a drawing/painting session, can’t wait! In the mean time, yours truly is the latest addition to the Footnotes E.A project, the only East African arts online publication! Holla! This year, I am not only taking my print career to another level but also spicing it up by adding art ..
BONUS: Kuona Trust is a non-profit organization founded in 1995 to serve visual arts and has since worked with over 1,500 artists giving them skills and opportunities to advance themselves while at the same time increasing the profiles and role of the visual arts in Kenya.
Thank you Gor Soudan for giving me an opportunity to learn and prove my worth