Jean-Damascene Niyitegeka is a 25 year old visual artist that held intrigue for art as early as the age of nine after observing students from Nyundo School of Art and Music in action and wanting to be like them. With encouragement from his family, Niyitegeka then started sketching and drawing. When he came of age, Niyitegeka enrolled in Nyundo School of Art and Music where he was able to explore different art forms and harness his craft in spite of the underlying worry that it might not pay off when transitioning to the workforce because of how undervalued art remains to be in the community. “It’s hard to make money off of art but when you love it and work hard, it pays off,” Niyitegeka said. The artist conducted his first solo art exhibition in 2020 which, based on the turnout and the receptive audience, was regarded a success if you overlook the fact that the first art piece from that collection was purchased early this year. “Many people attended the exhibition and they all told me I am talented but nobody bought a painting until this year,” he said. Niyitegeka’s perspective of the solo exhibition can best be described as two sides of the same coin. On one hand he views the incredible turnout and feedback he received from attendees as a sign that his art resonates with them to some extent, which fuels his passion. However, that doesn’t take away from the fact that most of his work wasn’t purchased for a couple of years after, and that is a downside he simply can’t ignore. “Having the talent and skill to make art is not enough these days, you also have to be business oriented to truly be successful in any field.” Niyitegeka said. The 25-year-old visual artist is of the view that if art were treated similarly to the entertainment industry, in the sense that the artist’s job does not include representation, the creative economy might have less starving artists. “It is hard for people in the region to value visual arts, but if there were more managers representing visual artists, the value of art would be articulately portrayed” he says. About Niyitegeka’s artwork “Rwubusisi” is an acrylic painting featured in a 16 part series dubbed ‘Torment’. The painting, brought to life by Niyitegeka features a man proudly exhibiting the traditional ‘Amasunzu’ hairstyle that was worn by the majority of Rwanda’s male population back in the day. The intent behind ‘Rwabusisi’ according to Niyitegeka, was to remind Rwandans of their culture and encourage them not to leave it behind. One of Niyitegeka’s outstanding art pieces is a painting that features six angry children standing together, looking towards one direction in disappointment of unmet expectation. The painting, according to Niyitegeka was meant to shed light onto the youngest generation amidst the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, and the art piece explores the high standards onto which they obliviously held their country, and the deep rooted desire to rebuild it to something better.