'From Vermont to Ethiopia and Back Again'

BRATTLEBORO — "From Vermont to Ethiopia and Back Again," an art exhibition including photography, Mobile Mural Project collaboration, and paintings by Meghan Rigali and Behulum Mengistu. Rigali is a San Francisco Art Institute graduate and interdisciplinary artist-educator. Mengistu is an international graffiti artist. This show highlights ongoing cultural partnerships between artists and educators in Vermont and their counterparts in Hawassa, Ethiopia which brought Rigali to Hawassa and Mengistu to Vermont in 2017.

Among the pieces in this show are the Mobile Mural Project which is a 16' x 4' collaborative mural by the two artists, created during a recent artist residency at Twin Valley Middle High School. The Mobile Mural was conceived over a conversation depicting the cultural exchange through a mythological lens. The piece includes a dynamic engagement between the Ibex, the endangered ungulate of the Simien Mountains and the symbol of Ethiopia and the deer-chimera, a reference to the beloved denizen of the Northeast, reflective of the spirit of friendship between the artists and the act of cultural recognition. Paintings from Mengistu and scarves from the southern regions of Ethiopia will complement Rigali's photographs from UNESCO World Heritage site, the Simien Mountains, to offer a glimpse into this culturally, geographically and geologically rich region of East Africa. For artist Rigali, "Engaging in this cultural exchange between Ethiopia and Vermont through the creation of visual art is an impactful conversation in the first human language. My artistic collaborations with Behulum Mengistu continue to ignite connections between our countries as a welcome invitation to cultivate community building and essential awareness around human and environmental rights."

Opening reception on Aug. 4, First Friday Art Walk of Brattleboro 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. and will include storytelling from the artists, including speakers from The Willowell Foundation and One Love Theater, a Hawassa based youth theater troupe dedicated to education around AIDS and gender equality. Some of the pieces will be for sale and will benefit the One Love Theater and the continued collaboration between Ethiopian and Vermont NGOs to support their mission. Live Neo-Folk music performance and screenprinting by additional participants in this extraordinary cultural exchange.

Exhibition continues through Aug. 17. Gallery hours are Sundays, noon to 5 p.m., 2 to 6 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Appointments can be made by contacting Meghan Rigali at artemisrigali@gmail.com.


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