Artist Profile: Sarah Nakisanze

Sarah Nakisanze works in fiber, particularly bark cloth, to create fabric patterns based on traditional Ugandan motifs. She is also a fashion designer. She has a distinguished career in the fashion world in Africa and teaches at the Margaret Trowel School, of Fine and Industrial Art, Makerere University. Her thesis for her Master’s of Art in Fine Arts degree at Makerere University was titled “An Investigation into the Construction of a Ugandan Fashion Identity.” She is also an activist and facilitates workshops on rural craft practice and HIV/AIDS awareness. Her fabric and fashion designs have been widely exhibited throughout Africa in Uganda, South Africa, and Kenya. Her designs have also been shown in England.

In her words…

I am a female, Ugandan, fine and industrial artist whose artistic background is both formal and informal, and I have been practicing art for the last fifteen years. I have experienced a variety of media of expression but my passion is to turn ‘bark cloth’ into a story to tell. My vision is to see “bark cloth,” a fabric unique to Uganda, as a successful material in artistic expressions. It is already recognized as part of world’s collective heritage. My philosophy is: understand the fabric, appreciate its historical relevance, and overlaid with my images, you will love it. I am passionate about it, and by using it as an expression of art, I help to retain a bit of our culture and bring back the production of this fabric as an honorable trade.

I am inspired by my surroundings, nature, African patterns and animals and have been influenced by the many unacknowledged and unknown artists in the past. These unsung heroes who have left a living legend of fabric decoration are recognized and honored through my art. I am a very patient, quiet diligent and optimistic woman who believes in her self and this is reflected in my work.

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