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GUTS AND GUILE: THE BERLIN GEEKETTES’ JESS ERICKSON

Posted on September 2, 2013 by Kimberly L. Bryant

Geekettes is about encouraging women to have the guts to speak up and say I’m not satisfied with the status quo and I want things to change and I deserve it.” – Jess Erickson

Smart n’ savvy, The Berlin Geekettes  are a group of female change-makers out to conquer the tech world one code at a time. For women who love technology and big-thinking, the Geekettes serves as a healthy support system of friendly ladies who know their stuff and want to help their fellow peers succeed in the business and tech industries. Founder Jess Erickson  is a globe-trotting entrepreneur who saw a glaring need to encourage more women into leadership roles. The Geekettes are changing Berlin’s young, male-dominated start-up scene into the new hot-spot for female techies to flourish.  The Geekettes not only offer a strong support system of like-minded women, but also organize events, conferences, and mentorship programs . The group’s spread is wide and with Jess at the helm there’s no doubt they’re going to continue shaking things up for the tech startup scene. Jess’s passion for women entrepreneurs has even caught the attention of people like Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg.

Skyping from Betahaus, one of Berlin’s many start-up hubs, Jess took some time to talk with me about Sheryl, The Geekettes, and the art of public speaking.

 KB: What is your intention with Berlin Geekettes?

JE: I’m trying to create a healthy, natural, organic way of encouraging women to get into leadership roles, to found their own companies, to master code, to do things that are typically male-dominated, and do it based on their own volition and their own desire to want to be a part of it. As long as the women appreciate it and there are more and more women joining, I think that’s valid enough reason for  me to continue doing this and really pushing the initiative. Continue Reading →

ARTIST INTERVIEW: SANE

Posted on August 26, 2013 by Kimberly L. Bryant

To create, for me, is to be part of a meaningful, useful human existence. – SANE

One of Uganda’s burgeoning contemporary artists breaking moulds left, right, and center is Buganda-born painter Eria Solomon Nsubuga (34), who goes by the artist name of SANE. While taking a break from applying brushstrokes on the canvas of his most recent large-scale socio-political collage work, the easygoing artist talked with me about social change and the challenges of making art in Uganda.

KB: Have you found it possible to use your art to create social change in Uganda?

SANE: Social change always starts with a change of mindset… art offers a way for the community to see itself. In our case, however, Ugandans have tried to stifle the incredible power of art by ignoring its potential to effect change. They have not given art sanctity as a discipline, nor as a part of daily life. If we could get the society to recognize, appreciate and celebrate visual art in particular and art (creativity) in general, then that mindset change will be the springboard to using art to deal with other fundamental social issues.

What are some personal challenges you encounter as a Ugandan artist?

 Not being fully recognized, appreciated, and celebrated in my own society, even while I may be appreciated outside Uganda’s borders. As such, funding for project based artwork can be hard to find; the private sector is not yet interested in working with visual artists. Our lack of a cultural agenda or development strategy has left us without sound art institutions like galleries, museums, libraries, and cultural centers that promote the relevance of art. In effect there are little, if any, books written about Ugandan art(ists). In general, our society doesn’t understand our art because there is little literary record of it.

Can you tell me about insecurity you experience as an artist?

 Many times I have to stop and ask myself, is being an artist a worthwhile way to live? Being an artist is not really recognized or accepted as a useful profession in Ugandan society. For example, to be a doctor and lawyer are much more respected. Things are changing, but the fundamental shift towards full acceptance, celebration, and patronage by the Ugandan people and government is yet to come. As of now we remain high and dry, unfunded, expected to participate as part of the informal sector of society, as self-employed freelancers, without formal structures to support our growth.

How do you deal with the financial aspects of the business vs. your personal creativity?

I have to teach to make extra money to live. In recent years, it has been difficult making a decent living off fine art alone. We have to embrace more techniques and technology to diversify the art products we offer. But this is symptomatic of the underlying industry deficits. Many other professionals also have to struggle to subsist. Many people take up more than one job in order to make ends meet.

Who are some artists who have inspired your work?

Henri Matisse (Fauvist), Andre Derain (Fauvist), Joan Miro (Surrealist), Picasso (Cubist), and Willem de Kooning (Abstract Expressionist) Continue Reading →

32° EAST/UGANDAN ARTS TRUST, IAN MWESIGA

Posted on August 19, 2013 by Kimberly L. Bryant

 

This past March saw the opening of 32° East |Ugandan Arts Trust, a space for the creation and exploration of contemporary Ugandan art located in the country’s capital city of Kampala. Co-founded by Brits Rocca Gutteridge and Nicola Elphinstone, the trust has so far played host to a series of acclaimed African artists such as – Harandane Dicko (Mali), Daudi Karungi (Uganda), Vita Malulu (Tanzania), and Kevo Stero (Kenya). One of the trust’s current artists-in-residence, Ian Mwesiga (24), is a graduate of the historically revered art school at Makerere University, who strives to create social change through his colorful, texture-based abstract work. As Ugandan artists begin pushing boundaries beyond the current cultural status-quo, the Kampala art scene is one to watch in the coming years.

32 East – http://ugandanartstrust.org/

Ian Mwesiga –https://mwehtsigaian.see.me/

All images © Kimberly Lauren Bryant / All Rights Reserved

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PHOTO-ESSAY OF NANTWALA, BUIKWE DISTRICT, CENTRAL UGANDA

Posted on July 17, 2013 by Kimberly L. Bryant

Introduction to our new column “Arts & Aboard”

Kimberly L Bryant is a visual artist traveling around Europe and Africa. Arts & Abroad is her column for The Harlow. Kimberly was born in Canada 29 years ago and she is in love with visual language, colors, sounds and sights on offer around the world. 

Arriving at 5am in the village of Nantwala, Buikwe District, Central Uganda, after twelve hours in transit from Europe is a shock to the senses. Stumbling blurrily into the bedroom, I unfurl my tired body on the mattress, outfitted with a pink mosquito net, to sleep. In the weeks following, the outgoing children and their families engage candidly with me, welcoming me into their homes. Students at one of the local schools sit on wooden benches listening to their teachers as sun streams into the open-air classrooms. Most of the village is without power or plumbing; food is cooked atop fiery hot coals, early days start upon sunrise… Late-night chatter goes on long after the sun drops back while fireflies sparkle against the darkened backdrop of vast fields, mirroring the multitude of stars above.

Continue Reading →