Fine artist Anne Mwiti talks to SHIRLEY GENGA about her passion
Describe yourself in three words.
I am an "art-o-holic".
What do you do?
I do art for a living. I have been an artist all my life and practiced art at different levels of learning mainly as a trainer and mentor. I also paint and market my paintings as a professional artist. Anne Mwiti
What inspires me to paint?
Well, many things inspire me but mostly it is the daily life issues around me and African society. Of particular interest to me as a theme are women and the many issues that affect their existence.
In January, I had my first ever solo gallery at Osteria Gallery in Karen .It ran between January 5 and January 26 and it was themed "Magical Diversity". I displayed artworks done within a period of two years on studies of African women. My purpose for the exhibition was not only to display my work but to also bring out the strengths of women in the African society.
What did you study in campus?
I studied Fine Art and Education at Kenyatta University. My studies at the campus have greatly contributed to who I am today. My career is basically in training and mentoring. I have done all my degrees at Kenyatta University from undergraduate to Masters and currently my doctorate.
Apart from painting what do you do?
I work at Kenyatta University as a lecturer in Department of Art and Design.
When did you discover your gift?
I started drawing when I was five years old. This was before I attended basic education. I remember when I did my first drawing, which happens to have been of a woman, I recall my father laughing at it because it was absolutely hilarious.
He then went ahead and illustrated to me what a drawing of a woman was meant to look like. This was my first art lesson. My father who passed on in 1999, he was a guitar player and his artistic talents were expressed through music. All through my primary school, I drew for pleasure because art was not taught in schols at the time.
During the selection for high school, I selected Alliance Girls’ High school as my first choice because I learnt that the school taught and examined art. My dream was to be an artist and a designer. This is where my art skills developed greatly because the school (Alliance) and the teachers encouraged and developed various talents in the students.
What challenges have you faced?
My line of work as a professional artist has many challenges. This is because "Art is history but art market is business". This means, when I draw, paint or do any art related project, I am recording history with no monetary motivation. However, art galleries and art collectors need to take my art from that level and market it to make it a business so that there is continuity.
Do you think it is important to go to University if one is an artist?
University education today is termed as basic education; especially in a country like Kenya which is influenced by the elite. Passion and talent are important and many artists have prospered without college education. However, self-articulation and esteem are built through basic education.
Advice to aspiring artists?
My advice to those interested in doing what I do, is to be patient and resilient. This is because the art market is not easy but it is growing and there is much more appreciation of art as a business.
Many are now recognising art as a future investment similar to the equity market. African art is unique and authentic and will always be sort after all over the world.
What do you do for fun?
I paint for fun and when I am not painting I am talking about art. If I am not talking art I marketing and selling art in galleries. I quite the "artoholic".
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