INTERVIEW WITH: DESIGNER MESERET HABTE STIPHANOS
In commemoration of International Women’s Day, NUEYS went and visited an exhibition that was presented by EWAA (Eritrean Women’s Agricultural Association). During the exhibition there were all types of presentations ranging from agricultural based products to creative artistic innovations. While we were taking in the exhibition we met one of the women who was presenting her own artistic pieces. Her name is Meseret, to know more about her and her art read on
Q. Meseret, why don’t we start with you telling us a little bit about yourself?
A. Well, my name is Meseret Habte Stiphanos, and I am 31 years old. I was born in Ethiopia, and I came to Eritrea in 2002. I then began school in the 6th grade, and completed my academic education at Mai Nefhi College where I finished in Science Education, and I am now working as a teacher.
Q. Who or what inspired you to go into the world of art?
A. The first person to inspire me was my mother. She is very good with her hands, especially in these arts and crafts activities. She began teaching me when I was around 8 years old. But then as I grew older specifically around college I really dove into the arts.
B. Explain to us specifically what you have presented at this exhibition.
A. My first piece presented depicts how most of the time our best ideas come from just closing our eyes and reflecting on our thoughts. My second piece reflects this holiday, International Women’s Day. I believe the afro represents women, and since all women have beauty represented that beauty through all the different colors in the piece.
Q. As an artist in this industry what obstacles have you faced?
A. Well, the first obstacle I immediately think of is time. Time is not a resource I’ve found in abundance while working in the arts, because the amount of time I need for the arts cannot fully be provided from the already limited time in my regular life. For example I’ll need around eight hours to make a piece, the draft will not take long, but after that to make the piece will take quite some time. Second, there is a shortage of resources. You can never find exactly what you want, so you must always be creative and work with what you have
Q. How does your process of production and distribution work?
A. As I mentioned earlier, I complete the whole process of production myself at my home. When it comes to distribution, I mainly present my creations at exhibitions, that is how I expose my art to the society.
Q. Do you sell your products to people living abroad.
A. Yes, in fact the majority of my customers are people who live abroad. When they come to Eritrea and visit the exhibitions I present, they frequently purchase my pieces. I’ve sold my pieces at exhibitions at the American Center and other places here in Asmara. These centers frequently Provide us platforms to show our works on holidays like this one. I also plan on beginning to sell my products abroad sometime in the future, but because I am on my own right now it is not possible. If someone living abroad wishes to acquire my piece/s, then they can contact me through Facebook and Instagram(@meserethabte).
Q. Tell us about your experience as a woman in this area of work.
A. Well, I think this is skill any woman or man should have. The self-reliance it creates is very advantageous; the skill of the hand is not something that should be taken lightly. There is also the fact that the field pushes you to be a person who thinks outside of the box. This is something that pushes you to be creative and motivates you to make unique works of art.
Q. What part do you think art plays in our society?
A. Although the advancement of technology has begun to make handmade art less and less relevant overtime, I believe this type of art plays a big role in describing our culture and identity. This type of art is something that has always been a part of us, is a part of us, and will always be a part of us.
Q. To future youth at home and abroad who desire to become artists, what words of wisdom do you have for them?
A. The first thing I’d like to say is that you must think of everything as achievable and continuously work towards it. You must also know what you specifically wish to achieve. This is how you achieve what you desire. If I am going to use myself as an example, the work I do is extremely consuming, both time and energy wise. It also is mental tiring, in order to be successful in this you must persevere, be extremely dedicated and patient. These are some of the critical virtues one must acquire if they are going to be successful in this field.
Q. Is there anything else you would like to say.
A. To the youth I’d like to say that if we use our time wisely, there is nothing we can’t achieve.
That is all, thank you Meseret.
You’re welcome, and thank you.
Written By: Raey Berhane, Mussie Merhazion