Art by Liyou Kebede

Statement from the artist, Liyou Kebede:

My experience throughout this whole journey is not something I can comprehend in words. I was new to the country as well as working as a researcher.

I remember my first day of going on field research, it was all fear. Not because I was new to everything, but because I was too scared to face people who have been through a lot with memories they don’t even want to recall. Will I be digging deep into their scars, or will I be opening a wound that was already healed? Too many thoughts running through my head. As I started recording people’s stories, I knew it was going to be a fight between myself, a job that needs to be done, and my natural human sympathy. One thing I had learned as a researcher is to never let your emotions get mixed and make the judgment for you. But it was very hard. It was hard not being able to cry when they cry, to help when they ask, and to be there when they called. As a human, is it possible to shut down emotions? I just had to learn to suppress it. And I did.

But the best part of the whole journey was the fact that I was able to be a listener of their stories, the mediator of their problems, and the hope of their future in one way or the other. Most of them always tell me, even if I cannot help them directly, I have been breathing space for their problems bottled inside for years. It made me feel I did something to impact one’s life. And this research has made my respondents feel like there is someone out there interested to listen to their story. It was the best experience and one I would love to do again and again.

About the Artist

Liyou Kebede was born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. After she completed high school, she joined EiABC (Ethiopian Institute of architecture and building construction). But since she had an interest in visual art, as soon as she completed her 2nd year, she joined the printmaking department at Alle School of fine arts and design. Her works mainly focus on human emotion. How emotions are being affected with the “make life easier” choices. She explores different materials to portray emotions. She is known for incorporating screen printing, and glue print technique on her big size scrolled canvases. And she uses different ways to present her works for people to engage with their emotions. She has been participating in group exhibitions since 2015. She is also a self-taught photographer and has held a group photography exhibition. She currently resides in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.