WOMAN-ing, an art exhibition that explores the contrast between what a woman wants and what society expects from her, kicked off in Kigali on the evening of July 8. The exhibition which will run until July 22, is taking place at Kigali Public Library. Organised by Myriam Uwiragiye Birara, a self-taught independent artist and feminist, the exhibition which is composed of 13 artworks also depicts a woman’s thirst for freedom, her feminine nature which is sometimes confused as weakness and how she can live in an unapologetic way. Myriam Uwiragiye Birara standing beside one of the artworks being showcased in her art exhibition WOMAN-ing The young artist discovered her passion for art at a very young age which pioneered her to venture into storytelling; drawing and sketching comics in her notebook and later becoming a full-time filmmaker. In 2017, she was introduced to painting as a form of self-therapy and hobby and as she did so, she had time to figure out her style, her signature as well as what stood out for her the most, which later compelled her to start sharing her artworks with people around her. She is aware that most of her works explore feminism or women and capture small or invisible moments that trigger big changes in life and lead to what people become. As a female artist, most of the time she finds herself writing about women – a routine that persisted even when she started crafting the artworks for the exhibition. The first three depicted women. Myriam Uwiragiye Birara with some of her artworks I was like, ‘these are a lot of women’,” she said. “So, I decided to call the exhibition WOMAN-ing because its much more about women and because I am a feminist and cant wait to see things change, this is my contribution towards that, she said. Talking about one of her artwork titled Blooming, Birara said: “There is an age a woman reaches and people be like ‘she is blooming, she should be making some big decisions before its too late, otherwise she is not going to get married and have kids.’ Its about the pressure society puts on women. I wanted to say that there is no such thing like blooming time. A woman can blossom all the time. Her other artwork titled Flexibility of a woman depicts a woman with a very long and somehow curved neck of which Birara said represents the way, from a very young age, society expects a woman to be comfortable and flexible all the time. “Society tells you that you dont have the same choices as your brothers. And you do a lot of work when you are young because you are a woman by nature; you have to be flexible even when you dont like it. In families, women are abused and they were taught to go with that, to be flexible. If you are a feminist and independent, they say you are not going to make it, that you have to be flexible. So, that was the inspiration behind the artwork.” When asked why people in her artworks have long necks, she said it’s because she loves necks and finds people with long necks very elegant. At some point, they are a little bit exaggerated because I find it really cool and beautiful. I think at some point; all people have long necks but we can see them when they are marching with confidence. They really look elegant and beautiful and I also love neat things and care about details, she said. Birara is planning to make more paintings for sale and seeks to start an art gallery. She hopes to achieve it because she has so far found people who are willing to lend a hand.