Artist Profile: Rita Edopu

Rita Edopu from Uganda holds a number of degrees from Makerere University where she is presently pursuing a PhD program in addition to her Masters in Painting, and her degrees in pedagogy, counseling and technology. In addition she has attended postgraduate courses in Sheffield, England. She has exhibited her work widely including venues in Uganda, South Africa, Kenya, and in the United States – New Jersey, Maryland, Rhode Island, Georgia and at various institutions such as Brown University’s List Gallery and Bowie State University. She is a lecturer at Margaret Trowell School of Industrial and Fine Arts, Makerere University.

Ritah Edopu’s inspiration as an abstract artist is inspired by the western artist Kandisky. As a child, Ritah was fascinated by modeling tiny animals in clay as her seemingly uninterested siblings opted for other engagements. In her early learning she was exposed to the basic shapes of circles, squares and triangles yet she does not look to those ideas as shaping her abstract style. Her use of basic shapes to represent much more complex themes – reminiscent at times of cubism, or at other times minimalism – leaves room for deep exploration of the canvas. Her work could be characterized as abstracted figurative images influenced by African traditional symbolism

Owing to its diverse peoples and resources, Uganda is a uniquely complex country. Uganda is also a country that is endowed with a wealth of cultures spanning over long periods, which were bound by art (cultural) practices, and their associated artifacts. These art factual materials appeared to be evenly distributed among various groups. The most prominent and practical characteristic among all the groups was traditional dexterity. In her PhD studies she has raised questions concerned with where we should devote change in terms of pedagogy and art education. Indeed, we might ask how education without a strong basis in art at this level can be of any benefit to such growing African communities.

Edopu is also concerned with the continuity of art or social practice for the construction of cultural meanings. She currently holds workshops with children in mental hospitals and war torn areas advocating for issues of social justice, democracy and rule of law. These are the people whose voices need to be heard. In order to maintain these interests there is need to concentrate not only on networking but also on the practical and artistic projects of the workshop participants. This has the intention of developing personal creativity and encouragement of artistic progression in Africa, an essential step towards the enhancement of culture.

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