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Exhibit:"Kibera : Expressions of Life in Contemporary Art of Kenya"

The show opens on Saturday, May 28, 2022 at 2pm at ROAM A Xtina Parks Gallery on Mass Moca Campus at North Adam, MA

May 9, 2022 (North Adams, MA) -- ROAM is excited to present eleven young African artists in collaboration with the Uweza Foundation from Nairobi, Kenya in an exhibition entitled Kibera: Expressions of Life in Contemporary Art of Kenya.


The Uweza Foundation works with youth and their families from the Kibera neighborhood, the largest informal settlement, or slum, in Nairobi. The Foundation provides space, instruction, and time for students who get little if any educational resources or opportunities to teach them the tenets of painting and art creation.



The exhibition at ROAM this summer will include over 20 paintings of work highlighting the motifs and topics that are familiar to the students such as family, African animals, cities, landscapes, and some of the Kibera community itself. The student artists spend their free time at the Uweza Foundation art center located in the neighborhood, a respite for many from the daily experiences of living in a community without standardize resources such as systemized roads, water, and energy sources. During their time at the Foundation, the artists learn how to paint, and some even become teachers themselves. Kibera has an estimated quarter of one million residents who live in a condensed area the size of approximately 20 football fields. The majority of residents live in extreme poverty and face unimaginable challenges in their daily lives, and more than half of Kibera’s residents are below the age of 18.


During a 2019 research trip to Nairobi, ROAM founder and owner Xtina Parks came across the Uweza Foundation when she met Jennifer Sapitro, the Foundation’s founder and executive director. During the first visit, the idea was sparked and the two collaborated in planning the exhibition, a show that pulses with a vibrancy, color, and life of impactful expression.


“I spend a lot of time in Africa from Botswana to Kenya, and have been exposed to artists and artisans of all different types and levels. When I first visited Kibera and the Uweza Foundation, my heart stopped. The students have a way with color and form that is very powerful,” said Xtina Parks, “You will, of course, see nuances from the newness of their craft, but I saw an incredible opportunity to collaborate with Uweza and bring these new students’ works of art to the United States, to North Adams, and to my Gallery. An opportunity that neither the Gallery nor the students could ever have. For them to have their artwork on display engaging new audiences across the world, and for us to be able to show this beautiful insight into their community and perspective, that is part of the fabric of Africa, is unparalleled.”


Xtina Parks is an African wildlife photographer, filmmaker, and conservationist who lives in the U.S. and Botswana. She strives to support and promote contemporary and traditional African artists who do not have access or opportunities for global exposure. The 11 artists who will be highlighted in Kibera: Expressions of Life in Contemporary Art of Kenya have been selected by Xtina Parks. All pieces in the show are for sale.


Each of the 11 artists featured in the Kibera: Expressions of Life in Contemporary Art of Kenya exhibition have endured extraordinary challenges. And yet, their work visually communicates an essence of life that is universal. We see aspects of this in Frank Okoth’s use of light and texture in his work titled, Kibera Mixed Media which offers the viewer a perception of depth and dimensional reality; Murrel Aluoch’s resplendent portraits composed of cubist inspired geometric forms give a glimpse into the soul of her subjects (one shown below); Don Odhiambo’s striking illustrative interpretations of tribal comradery and community protection, conveys humanistic perspective that reverberate beyond borders. Each are stunning.


The show opens on Saturday, May 28, 2022 at 2pm with an opening reception on the third-floor gallery. The day’s events will include programming and community engagement activities with ROAM curator Aria Corrine Gannon and Uweza Country Director Japheth Okoth.


The gallery hours are Wednesday through Sunday, 10-6. Private tours available by (413) 663-8000 or email aria@roamgallery.photo.


ABOUT ROAM

ROAM A Xtina Parks Gallery, on the campus of MASS MoCA, is home to an African art and photography gallery as well as a fair-trade artisan and home décor store. Also located at the North Adams site are Xtina Studios and Xtina Photography, two additional areas of ROAM’s work. Our synergistic branches all focus energy towards sharing the story of Africa, her people, and her wildlife – and how our work can make a difference in Africa. We are driven to share the adventure of conservation, for humanitarian efforts, and for the natural world. ROAM is committed to supporting sustainable businesses that are environmentally responsible and ethical in their endeavors towards people, wildlife, and the Earth.


ROAM: A Xtina Parks Gallery, Xtina Studios, and Xtina Photography focus on making conservation efforts accessible to the wider world. By promoting Africa’s rich heritage of artwork that speaks to deeper meanings and understanding of the natural world, our Galleries hope to impart new ways of seeing things. ROAM showcases African contemporary and traditional artwork in an accessible way: through stories, visual arts, photography, film, and traditional artwork, while actively seeking artists who honor sustainable practices. Our goal is to share the stories of the people, the land and sky, and the voices of the animals by weaving together the intertwined relationship that must exist between them for any true conservation to be successful.


Through on the ground conservation efforts to help save habitats from man-made destruction, Xtina Studios is actively involved in nature conservation to help protect critically endangered species by documenting our work with film. These productions aim to introduce and inspire a new generation of minds and hearts into the field of conservation. The Xtina Studio’s team of filmmakers and researchers are filled with the spirit of adventure. Our goal is to inspire hope and positive change – and to speak on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves…the incredible last vestiges of free wildlife alive today.


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