Connecting through art, social media, and stories

When Daniel Aklilu and I connected on Facebook, he generously offered to illustrate a #RSG book for us. I sent him a title from our new inclusion series, which is part of the Mike Carr Legacy project. Each day he would work on one illustration and share it with me via Messenger then I would provide comments and input.

We had a few amusing miscommunications at the start, including receiving an illustration for one of the books I had used as an example. I couldn’t figure out why the illustration had a Nigerian character (though another #RSG book does) till Daniel explained, and we shared a laugh. It was a fun and fruit fruitful collaboration. We shared ideas, sometimes agreeing on an approach, and other times debated.

The book, We Are Better Together, was recently published. When we are ready to finish each book, we ask our talented volunteers to share a bit about themselves for the back matter. Daniel’s biography, as so many we collaborate with, had many stories to tell of its own as you can read below. I am excited to be collaborating with Daniel on two more books about mothers and fathers.  Thank you, Daniel for sharing your gifts and your example!

More about Daniel:

Daniel is from the capital city of Addis Ababa located in Ethiopia. He studied and graduated with a BFA in Sculpture and an MA in Fine Arts from Addis Ababa university, Alle School of Fine Arts and Design.

While working towards his post graduate degrees in Fine Arts, he discovered his signature style. Through what he perceives as the disorder, crowds, and gaps in living standards within society, Daniel has found a closeness between each area that we share that he strives to capture in his works. Highlighting what may be considered miscommunication between humanity in areas like language, culture, and religion, Daniel identifies the cause for barriers and conflict, which in some cases lead to greater consequences like violence and war.

In his own words:

“Art and artists like myself represent a few among many in the world that can overcome differences, mostly because we use something that each of us share – the sense of sight. Whether through a painting, sculpture, photography, or illustration; anyone can form an opinion or engage with an artwork based on its appearance. I believe this sentiment is a perfect example of how we may see the same thing but appreciate them in diverse ways, with no right or wrong conclusion. This is what attracted me to art and design in the first place. As an artist, through my works I look to reshape the paradigm from what’s “right and wrong” to what’s “right and right”.

Daniel has been a full-time artist and professor at the Alle School of Fine Arts and Design at Addis Ababa University since 2013. The Alle School has played a pivotal role in Ethiopia and in Eastern Africa in general. It has been one of the most revered institutions of higher education where talented students have trained in pursuit of becoming professional artists and educators. As a professional artist himself, Daniel looks to help students understand art’s historic impact, standards of artistic expression, and develop and nurture a business acumen for those who intend to add a commercial component to their portfolios.

3 thoughts on “Connecting through art, social media, and stories”

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