Notes from Addis: Netsa Art Village

A day spent around art and artists is always already a good day, and I went to the Netsa Art Village in Addis Ababa. I had the privilege of getting to know the artists and their works on view and in the studio/storage spaces available to the eleven artists who have committed to making the Netsa Art Village, established in 2008, a thriving contemporary art venue. With few financial resources or government support, these artists do it all from managing everyday administrative duties to constructing the very exhibition spaces needed to display their works. In addition to serving area children through workshops and community projects, this grassroots organization is building on a small, but eager contemporary art scene. In fact, from what I observed, they are defining it.

When I decided to come to Ethiopia to teach at the Alle School of Fine Arts and Design, I thought that teaching alone would suffice. I know now that more must and can be done by way of scholarship on contemporary art in Ethiopia. I feel obligated to write more. Not in this space, but more will come. More must come. Art from the African continent has long been an afterthought on the art market, in art criticism and on the pages of important journals, Nka: Journal of Contemporary Art, African Arts, and, most recently, Transition, notwithstanding. I hope to add my voice to the choir (through a formal article) of those who would like to advocate for artists and locations like Netsa Art Village in Addis Ababa that keep art communities alive and thriving through passion, commitment and undying energy despite many obstacles, especially bureaucratic, in order to provide knowledge of and access to fine arts.

Here is a description of the Netsa Art Village from the website:

Netsa is a membership organization which exists to stimulate the quality, development and context for contemporary art practice in Ethiopia. We aim to broaden the constituency for contemporary art in a global environment by initiating and facilitating professional networking and communication, a dynamic exchange of information and presentations of examples of good practice. It is founded on a willingness to work together to identify and pool resources, meeting challenges with efficient channels of communication, collective problem-solving, and sharing knowledge and experience.

Beautiful Grounds

Hard work, a cooperative spirit, and an inspirational vibe are found here at Netsa Art Village.

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