Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Aklilu Temesgen, Painter, Tells His Story

What drives me to the art world is my childhood desire to create something out of found objects -- collecting small things that I found in my surroundings and using them to create something that could help me play with it. My work today is a continuation of the creative seeds planted in my childhood.

I grew up in a town called Dessie in Ethiopia. My work tells my own story, my ideas, my dreams and wishes and I endeavor to show stories of my Ethiopian community as well. Art is not limited to copying nature or a depiction of the story or social events. To me, art is a place where ideas flow without the limitations of time and space, where the flow of ideas is a core element of creativity.

As a visual artist, I follow what comes to my mind and I let my ideas freely flow until it blossoms. What I create is the result of my past story and my future imagination.

In our Ethiopian society and in my own family they did now want me to become an artist. They wanted me instead to focus my studies on becoming an engineer or another similar field of work. However, I knew deep down I was meant to be an artist and I kept pushing myself in that direction.

When I was very young I joined my elementary school art club and found that I was started fascinated by the process of creating a piece of art. I later joined the art club founded by the Ministry of Culture called 'Pallet Amateur Artists Club'. The artist, Syum Ayalew, was my drawing teacher who helped us prepare ourselves to take the entrance exams to join the Fine Art School in Addis Ababa. Later, at Addis Ababa University, I studied art and life as well, since living in a dormitory was very different from family life.

When I graduated from the University in 2004 with distinction, several friends and I got together and opened local art studios and hosted art shows in Addis Ababa, which turned out to be quite successful. I became a founding member of the "Netsa Art Village'" which is a place to practice and create art freely. I helped organize local and international workshops and other artistic events for them. After a few years, I left Ethiopia and moved to Poland to work on my Master's Degree in African Studies and Cultural Media.

I have participated in group and solo art shows in many countries: Kenya, Sudan, Zambia,  Djibouti, Poland, France, Spain, Germany, The Netherlands, Portugal, and the USA.

Since I came to the United States, I have opened my studio in  Silver Spring, Maryland where I continue creating new work and teaching art to children. I have found that I particularly enjoy working with children who are living with disabilities.

This is Week 49 of Artists Tell Their Stories. Thank you for reading and sharing Akilu's story today. To connect with him and see more of his work, please click on the following links:

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Kim Reyes, Makeup, SFX & Body Paint Artist, Tells Her Story

Being a Navy brat, I moved to a different city and/or country every three years and being an extremely shy child, I found comfort in drawing, painting and dressing up my menagerie of pets in fashionable costumes. My mother was an artist and it also came naturally to me. I didn't remember this but she recently gave me old drawings I did when I was four years old and they were all female figures with long black eyelashes and ruby lips!

I remember in my teens making up my poor 11-year-old sister and photographing her in ridiculously overdone makeup and my version of couture outfits - it was the 80's!!  It wasn't until my 2nd or 3rd career that I discovered I could make a living doing those lashes and lips.

After earning a degree in Marketing and Fashion Design, working in the ski fashion industry in Aspen, Colorado, then the New York fashion scene for several years I felt empty, hollow and unfulfilled in my career choice. I made my way back to Virginia where I got a makeup counter job and fell in love with making women look and feel pretty.

The Georgetowner Magazine Cover

I loved being able to transform women into a more flattering vision of themselves through makeup but I hated the retail grind and sales goals. Two years later I took a job with a wonderful jewelry designer for 9 years and was able to use my makeup skills for all her media, while meeting and working with photographers. During that time, I was able to save money to build my makeup kit.

In 2001 I set out on my own, all the while taking classes and workshops to hone my makeup skills. I spent countless hours testing (working for free with photographers and models) to get good images for my portfolio. I also learned and loved body painting and special effects makeup, which has taken me to many interesting jobs and situations.

Personal Project (Georgia O'Keefe inspired) Backdrop, Costuming, Body Paint 

I have body painted models for fashion shows, art openings and private parties, made up role players with bloody injuries for first responders and mass casualty exercises around the country and created war injuries on role players in the middle of the desert for the US Army's pre-deployment training.

Injury Makeup

My client list includes celebrities, politicians, astronauts, Supreme Court Justices and everyone in-between.  I work in television, video, print, live events, and charities like The Look Good Feel Better (makeup lessons for cancer patients) and Flashes of Hope (photo-shoots for terminally ill children and their families). Currently, I'm working a few times a month creating wounds and medical conditions for a production company that produces nursing training videos and textbooks.

Newsweek - Alan Greenspan

I just love what I do and the fact that every day is a brand new experience: new locations, new people, new challenges, and working for myself! Yes, there are stressors, like having to be super organized, balancing a healthy lifestyle with the self-employed tendencies to overwork. I have also had my share of failures; devastating at the time but they make for great stories now that I can laugh about them.

Current Mattress Warehouse Ad

I was once booked with huge fashion magazine editor who was visiting the White House and I worked myself into such a state of nerves that I did a terrible job. On a job interview for a position with a huge news network I was blow drying the hair of their national makeup/hair department manager and accidentally sucked her hair up into the back of the dryer; big surprise -- I didn't get the job! Then there was the time that I took a quick job to paint an actor alien green only to find out it was for a soft porn movie!

Aldrin Michele Richard, Chef

My job can be challenging and surprising. I was booked to do grooming for a famous chef with a celebrity photographer and what I ended up having to do for the shots was to break a raw egg over the chef's head, mush it into his beard and then clean it all off after the shot. On that same shoot I had to clean urine from the chef's head after the huge, live bullfrog, which they balanced on his head had an unfortunate accident.

IDEM Cover

My job can also be very glamorous. I had a magazine shoot about octogenarian lawyers and had to very tactfully remove nose, ear and chin hair from both the men and the women. I've had more than a handful of times when I've been down on all fours with bleach scrubbing up fake bloodstains from floors, furniture, and bridges. 

One shoot, at a new stadium under construction, had me trudging through sand, rusty nails and 4 inches of mud in the summer heat. I just go with the flow and do what needs to be done and at the end of the day, it's all about having a good attitude, sense of humor, much caffeine and making someone feel special while in my chair.

I do believe if you follow your passion you will be happy and successful.

Personal Project (Georgia O'Keefe inspired) Backdrop, Costuming    

This is week 48 of Artists Tell Their Stories. Thank you for reading and sharing Kim’s story today. To connect with Kim and see more of her work, please visit the following links:

(Headshot of Kim: Photo Credit: by Nicole Harkin)