U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia
at Opening of
2015 Women’s Art Competition
April 23, 2015
U.S. Embassy, Addis Ababa
(As prepared for delivery)
Welcome to what I hope you will find to be a very special event. Tonight, I am proud to host this reception in honor of the U.S. Embassy’s first annual Ethiopian Women’s Art Contest. But first, as this is the third and final national day of mourning in Ethiopia, I would like to take a moment to express my government’s and my personal condolences to the families, friends and colleagues of the victims of the horrific tragedy in Libya, and to again express our support to the Ethiopian government and people as they grieve for their fellow citizens.
The contest that we are marking today was developed to celebrate the wonderful vitality among women artists here in Ethiopia. Art offers wonderful mediums of expression, and you will see many of them here today. It also is an important platform for freedom of expression, and art captures important issues of concern facing society, be they social, economic or political. When you have had a chance to look around at all the wonderful art in the room already, you will know what I mean, and some of the pieces are quite powerful. So let’s start by giving a big round of applause to all the great women artists here with us tonight!
We organized this contest as part of our celebration of Women’s History Month, and while we gave the artists only one month to submit entries, we have been overwhelmed by the response. We have divided our contestants into two categories – professional and students – and received 168 submissions.
The art here tonight features a range of important subjects, capturing the beauty, hopes, struggles, fears and indeed the creativity Ethiopian women. The wide range of art on display in many ways is a reflection of the diversity of Ethiopia and its women.
As you move around the room tonight you will have a chance to talk to the artists to get a better understanding of the meaning of their artistic expression. Some pieces are very clear, others have more hidden meaning, but I can say that I am sure that you will leave here tonight wowed by the talented women whose art is on display.
An event like this takes a team effort and before we move on to the main part of the show I would like to pay special thanks to some of the organizers. First a big thank you to our Public Affairs Section which managed the contest and our General Services and Facility Maintenance offices which helped organize the set-up.
I would also like to pay a special thanks to Margaret Negawa and Desta Meghoo who helped organize and curate this wonderful show. Your dedication and talent in helping make this show a success is greatly appreciated by all of us.
I would also like to thank the members of the judging panel who made the hard decisions in picking the winners: they include several artists, an art historian and critic and art lovers. They are Ato Esseye, Gebre-Medhin, Bisrat Shibabaw, Johnette Iris Stubbs , Learned Dees and last but not least the icon of Ethiopian women artists, Desta Hagos.
So let me end my remarks by once again thanking you for coming and I hope you enjoy the evening.