Rwandan artist visiting Millvale for benefit
Cheryl McLaughlin of Shaler was captivated by a piece of art hanging in her relative’s home portraying African women wearing dresses in various colorful fabrics.
“I’m a fiber artist and the fact that this piece used African fabrics and depicted groups of proud and strong African women together just appealed to the proud and strong woman in me,” McLaughlin said.
McLaughlin asked her extended family member Colleen Moran, who owns the art, with her husband, Richard Tumushime, for additional details about the piece.
Tumushime’s friend, Sam Kambari, who lives in Rwanda’s capital of Kigali, designed the mixed-media piece. Tumushime, also a Rwandan native, visited the United States to attend LaRoche College in 2008 and married Moran in 2011.
Tumushime initiated a friendship via social media between McLaughlin and Kambari; the artist even gave McLaughlin a painting similar to the one that sparked their bond.
In turn, McLaughlin has propelled plans for Kambari to show his work from 6 to 9 p.m. April 6 at Tazza D’Oro Café & Espresso Bar, 524 Grant Ave., Millvale. She contacted her friend and Millvale resident Tina Walker, who reached out to Tazza owner Amy Enrico about hosting the event. Mark Panza of Millvale’s Panza Gallery will display the art.
Guests may purchase Rwandan coffee and tea. A $5 donation is suggested for a Rwandan food sampling.
A portion of art sales and a raffle will benefit The Bridge to Hope, which Moran and Tumushime co-founded.
McLaughlin’s husband, Joseph, serves as an adviser to the nonprofit helping Rwandans through counseling, education, health awareness and entrepreneurial opportunities. This is accomplished through a Christian mindset, according to the organization’s website.
Kambari, 28, was born in Uganda and earned an agro-forestry degree. He has been creating art since 2012, now working at the renowned Inema Art Center.
“I gain inspiration from nature, from people. I use African fabrics. The African fabrics represent my country, my culture and also women,” he said.
His art emphasizes the themes of gender equality and women’s empowerment.
“Some people, they think women they can’t — but women, they can. So, I started to work with women in my country landscapes.”
Kambari will show 20 pieces ranging from $400 to $8,000 in Millvale.
“All my art I do, it’s not about just searching for money, it’s also about helping my community, helping the world in general,” he said, noting the importance of participating in The Bridge to Hope event. He previously used his art to raise funds for relief in Haiti.
The Bridge to Hope aims to provide supplies for students attending a rural Zaza, Rwanda, school. While Rwandan education is public, many children cannot consistently attend school because they lack the necessary required supplies and uniforms, Moran said.
“These families, they really have little to nothing. They really are worried about living for the day. They don’t think of their future of what’s my son going to be when he grows up? Or what’s going to happen next month?”
Another goal is to install a solar-powered well so Zaza residents can avoid walking the current three miles each way for clean water access. Moran said oftentimes the children who are responsible for fetching water gather it from a closer impure river, which is unsafe due to the presence of snakes and hippos.
Finally, The Bridge to Hope is helping widows from the Rwandan genocide to become entrepreneurs by selling their handmade jewelry and crafts in America. The closest market is approximately an hour away from Zaza. People lack cars and public transit doesn’t travel there.
She said the Millvale show will allow Kambari to showcase his art, highlight the fact talent exists within the East African country, and illuminate the fact poverty still exists there, especially in the rural areas.
For more information: b2hrwanda.org.