Makda Kibour, a quiet gentle woman who immigrated to the United States from Ethiopia by way of Zambia, has under gone many transformations on her way to becoming an artist. After reaching Pennsylvania, she become part of a Mennonite family for five years, learning to navigate that religion’s discipline of “the simple life." This austere Bible-based faith was quite a contrast to ancient traditional rituals of the Greek Orthodox Church she grew up knowing in Ethiopia. Her artistic sensibilities responded to the expert woodworking and hand sewn quilts pieced with deep reds, blues and other dark colors that were part of the Mennonite culture.
Once acclimatized to a new life in this new country, she enrolled in cosmetology school, studied business, and then opened her own Mak Salon in Alexandria VA, while raising a family—and finally turning her attention to art. During the 1990’s Makda began taking classes at the Art League, finding her niche in Deanna Schwartzberg's painting class. Having been influenced by painters Jackson Pollock and especially Jean-Michel Basquiat, she dedicated one room in her salon to painting. In addition to Ethiopian and English, she has become fluent in the language of paint, producing emotional works that speak a universal language.
Makda’s first Touchstone solo exhibition, She Runs Wild, reflects the total surrender of herself to painting, to speaking the truth in color, line and form. The gap between cultures she has experienced in her life comes into play as she works. “Like me in one culture and then moving into a new culture, I have to find ways to fit in—to make sense of it all.” That concept seems akin to what Jean-Michel Basquiat felt when he remarked, “I don't think about art when I'm working. I try to think about life,” Makda does too. She paints the gaps, sews up the wounds, and adds stories she hears to her own very big story. “We can connect with everyone we meet by listening, by being open to each, and finally by recognizing we all are one in the body of humankind. Painting relieves the burden of so many profound stories and it can be shared with viewers so they can relate to each image. Maybe to be healed too,” she reflects.
The abstract acrylic paintings in She Runs Wild are gutsy stories and they are raw. Canvases are cut and sewn back together, dripping with paint and emotion. Violets, black, purple, blue and red reinforce the wounds caused by breaking open hard experiences. But the process also opens the psyche to deep understandings, allowing brighter colors to emerge. Vigorous brush strokes, colored shapes, and textures speak Makda’s third language—a universal painted expression, and one that she relishes. “I’m in a great place in my art as I work toward peace and fulfillment,” she states. And the viewer is invited to enter into the conversation with these wild works to enjoy and understand their import. –Rosemary Luckett
Show Dates - March 2-March 25, 2018. Opening Reception: Friday, March 2, 6-8:30 pm; Meet the Artist/Artist Talk Sunday March 25, 1-3 pm.
Touchstone Gallery— 901 New York Avenue NW, Washington DC 20001 — 202-347-2787 — Info@touchstonegallery.com — http://www.touchstonegallery.com Wednesday- Friday 11-6, Saturday-Sunday 12-5; 901 New York Ave NW, Washington DC 202-347-2787; Wed-Fri 11-6; Sat-Sun 12-5