racism and cultural assimilation
Bio and artist statement
Yilma received her education at the Casa Da Zhventude de Ourence. Spain; the Abyssinia School of Fine Art and Design, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; the Ale School of Fine Art and Design, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and the Columbus State Community College, Columbus, Ohio USA. She is Currently working on her Master’s of Fine Art at Boston University.
“I’m fascinated with the unexpected that is found in my surroundings. The unexpected stimulates my curiosity and fuels my interest as an artist, helping me to represent ideas of forms, patterns and symbols. This process pushes me to observe differences among commonalities. Finding nuances of similarities between totally different entities paves the way for me to connect with my surroundings and observe their influences on one another. I find such investigative approaches help me to generate new combinations of formal expression in my work.”
Similarly, in life, observing these commonalities and differences among diverse groups of people, whether in cultural or tribal identification, religious or ritual ceremonies, or even socioeconomic stature (such as the ones I have experienced in my home country of Ethiopia), have had such stark differences with the ones in the United States. This induced a shift in my way of thinking; in terms of both formal and contextual expression of my work. It opened up new ways of communicating ideas using the symbols, patterns and signage that I find in my daily commutes in this new setting.
Perhaps on a more personal note, it solidifies and shapes my approach towards the people I meet on an individual level here in the United States. Hence, the imagery of city infrastructures has had a large influence on my visual perception. In Ethiopia, on the other hand, the subject matter and elements I used to express my ideas were primarily centered on the human figure – immersed in the natural or biomorphic qualities of the world whereas figures that appear in my recent works are immersed in the geometric and are detached from one another in terms of spatial and subjective relationships.
Figurative works have often dominated the themes of my pieces; In particular, the day-to-day lives of ordinary humans. Subjects like people on the street, casual vendors, and open markets were the central motivation for my work. The influences of the social structure, learned by my upbringing in Ethiopia, were woven into the fabric of my thinking and provided me with a deep understanding of communal ties. Therefore, finding meanings from such life styles is not only natural, but the fuel to generate ideas that communicate information I understand at the core.
Hana Godine Yilma, Boston, MA