The spirit of art brought together a group of eleven young people with a speech impairment to bridge the gap between society and the deaf community.
Their art gallery would be the stage to apply their creative skills and imaginations. And indeed it is serving its purpose; apart from developing their talent, the artists now have a solid way of communication and expression of their values and emotions.
They make beaded pots, paintings, drawings, mural paintings and sculptures. They also deal in making jewellery, art multimedia and fashion, among other things.
Work displayed at their gallery mainly centres on Rwandan culture and symbols of its heritage.
For many, this gallery is also a symbol of individuality and a path to creating change in society.
Prince Nahimana, the founder of the art gallery, says when he established it last year, he had the aim of using his talent to establish himself in the arts industry.
The 31-year-old holds a diploma and a bachelor’s of art and industrial design.
Having graduated in 2018, Nahimana thought it convenient to use his skills to provide excellent art services and deliver high quality products to the community.
Apart from utilising his talent, he also wanted to reach out to others living with disabilities and offer them an opportunity to find purpose, discover their talents as well as earn a living.
“I wanted to reach out to other people living with disabilities and help them find employment, and in turn reduce the high level of unemployment among the deaf through creating jobs, especially among the youth,” he says.
Their work is sold within the country and abroad. Among his popular works are beaded pots, “Most people like them and always place orders for more, other works include paintings which we sell to clients in Rwanda and also abroad.”
As one with a speech impairment, Nahimana says dealing with clients isn’t easy but that they mostly communicate through written messages.
This and so many other obstacles are some of the challenges they face in terms of running their art gallery, he reveals.
“We have a problem of communication barrier and this is restraining us. But also, there is an issue of miss information or lack of information. At times we don’t know about the art exhibitions taking place, and this limits us in terms of finding market,” he says.
Nahimana also notes that there is a lack of resources, such as materials for painting and making of other products. This he says, limits their productivity.
In addition to that, he also observes challenges about the prevailing perception of art in general among people and society.
“The community does not have enough knowledge about art, this is affecting the success of the art industry in general.”
Giving back to community
Nahimana has a soft spot for children. This is why when he was setting up his gallery, he had plans for them at heart.
He says he has a distinctive plan for equipping children (with speech impairment) with skills in art.
He considers that art is a vital symbol for culture and because of this, he believes that it is imperative for children to gain such skills at a young age.
“I plan on training children with speech impairment in art. This is why I have an idea of establishing a school or art training centre for them in the near future,” he says.
Going forward, Nahimana holds a number of strategies that he hopes will ensure the continuity of his art gallery.
He hopes to expand more of his works to market them in East Africa, “I want to use my platform to continue promoting made in Rwanda products, and have people opt for them instead of buying things out of the country,” he adds.
He also hopes that his efforts continue reducing poverty for those living with disabilities.Follow https://twitter.com/DonahMbabazi