One of the connections we all feel as humans is our common love for art and designs. Artists use their talents to create something that fascinates, entertains and touches us in a way that no other things in our surrounding can. And we rarely meet young talented artists with a deep connection to designing and other handmade products.
An emerging and gifted artist, Meseret Habte, is very talented in embroidery, tailoring and designing. Her ability in color combination is the most interesting.
- Ok, Meseret, thanks for your time. First and foremost what is art for you?
For me art is the passion or the means to express my feelings. My emotions and my day to day activities, every action in a minute, can be expressed in art, so art for me, in short, is life.
- Tell me something about your self
I was born in Addis Ababa and raised in Asmara. I finished my secondary education in Sematat Secondary School, went to Sawa, did matriculation and the national service. I scored point that helped me to join college and graduated from science education. Now I’m working as a teacher in Mai Tesfa Elementary and Junior School.
- When was the time that you believe was a turning point in your life?
In the beginning I had no intention to be an artist. I was only 11 years old when my mother put me in a missionary institution known as the Orsoline Sisters Women Promotion Center. It was there that I learned embroidery, tailoring but also how to put a thread in the eye of a needle.
- Who inspired you?
Of course my mother. She knows how to use every fraction of her spare time. She spends her time sewing clothes and embellishing her house. She used to tell me that every woman’s hand is compared to gold and that our hand made products are dreamlike and attractive. She always encourages me to do so. And I tried hard to show her that her wisdom has passed to her daughter and coming generation.
- What promoted you to continue art as part of your life?
When I joined college I completely attached myself to the artistic works. I couldn’t spend a minute without thinking of any artistic works. So I took sketching, pencil and water color course in Satreb Art School for three months. Then I also took designing course in HT fashion.
- Tell me something about the competitions you won in college?
I won a prize two times for design shows in inter-college competitions held in Adi-keih and Maynefhi. It was very tough and required hard work to compete with other very talented designers. I did it all by myself materially and financially. I remember at that time I had to do the makeup for the models.
- I saw your work at the American Center. Was it your first time?
No, that was not my first time. I first presented my work at the American Center on February 14, 2016. Then, on November 25, 2017, at the Alliance Francaise. On 7th and 8th March 2018, I had an exhibition with other artists at Casa Deli Italian and Sudan Club respectively. Again I had a show at the American Center in 20th March honoring and celebrating Women’s History month.
- So, give me a definite idea about what exactly your works are and from what they are made.
My products include so many things like embroidery, handcrafts, clothes and handmade bags. I decorate bed sheets as well as stich colorful designs on clothes like Tilfi (traditional clothe). The hand crafts are made from cork, bids, threads and other recycled products which are cheap and easily available. Handbags, shopping bags and purses are mainly made of burlap and cotton known as Jedid. All of my products are completely hand made. I put so much creativity and all of my efforts on them. I try to combine modern and traditional designs to make my products more attractive.
- How do you see the necessity of such hand made products?
As we know, the economic status of our society is low. So my aim is to produce something which is affordable for our society. Nowadays the markets are full of foreign products. I always want to present our culture and tradition using my hand made works.
- Who are your customers and what feedback do you get?
My customers are mostly expatriates, Eritrean Diasporas and some local people who have an interest in art. The fact that the majority of our society do not have enough knowledge about art, specifically about handcrafts, their support doesn’t go beyond appreciation.
- How do you see the cooperation amongst other artists? Do you work with them?
Of course I have been working with other artists and fashion designers. I organized different shows and exhibitions with artists like Biniam Afworki, Hame Fashion, HT Fashion, Aman Style and some others.
- Tell me how you manage your time considering the teaching profession you have?
As a teacher I spend the whole day at school. It is difficult to cope with both the art work and teaching. But whenever I get free time I engage in my art work, usually at night time.
- Do you get satisfactory feedback in relation to the expenses and time that you spend on the art works?
This is not something you make money out of it; it is just to satisfy myself and to express my internal wisdom. I work just for my pleasure this time. And I know that one day my works will become precious items when the knowledge of art knocks at every household.
- Who supports you?
All my family and friends motivate me to do my work and organize exhibition. I don’t have any support yet from governmental and non-governmental organizations.
My friend and artist, Biniam Afworki, has a great role in supporting and encouraging me to do my work. He organized most of the exhibitions.
- What is your favorite work of art?
I love all my works very much. I truly enjoy waking up in the morning knowing that I will do something new and have a real passion for it. I can’t prefer one to the other. I adore every piece of my work.
- What is your future plan?
My future plan is to work widely on art and do large scale exhibitions in different galleries. I want to open my studio and extend my work in both traditional and modern artworks. I also have a plan to take an advanced education in arts.
- Any recommendations?
It would be better if there could be a big institution of arts where people can go and learn and present their works to the public so that families could send their children to that institution and help them recognize their talents and tendencies. It is also important to make an association of artists to ease the work done by the artist individually and create a platform to share ideas and experiences. Thank you for giving me this chance.
- It was a pleasure talking to you and good luck with your future works!