“Many people face so many catastrophes that change their mentality. Sometimes those things even take away their love for one another, even their love for life, but art shows you that there is always a new world, a new life and hope. It helps you think that you have a part of you that can do better for yourself and for others.” –Bakunzi Jean Bosco
Arts & Healing Network is truly delighted to present one of the 2012 AHN Awards: Honoring the Next Generation to Bakunzi Jean Bosco, artist and founder of Uburanga Arts Studio in Rwanda. At the young age of 26, Bakunzi has accomplished much, using his creativity to promote healing and community, especially among Rwandan youth. In 2010, he founded the Uburanga Arts Studio to bring together artists united around the belief that “art heals people physically, mentally and emotionally.”
We at the Arts & Healing Network are deeply inspired by how Bakunzi has transformed adversity with creativity. His innovative vision impresses us, as does his capacity to collaborate and his commitment to art as a healing catalyst. We applaud his immense talent and creative spirit.
To learn more about Bakunzi Jean Bosco’s work, please visit the Uburanga Arts Studio web site. You could also read a wonderful article published by Triple Pundit in September 2012 about the healing impact of Bakunzi's work.
Below is an interview by Arts & Healing Network Director Mary Daniel Hobson with Bakunzi Jean Bosco from October 2012:
Mary Daniel Hobson: You have achieved so much at such a young age. How did you find your way to this work with such focus so early on in your life?
Bakunzi Jean Bosco: It's all about being patient. I love what I do, and I have always believed that even though there are so many challenges today, tomorrow things can be better. I also believe that there is a reason why God made me stand on this world today, and that is why I work to make change and inspire the world.
Mary Daniel: Do you believe art can be a healing catalyst and if so, how?
Bakunzi: Yes I do. One of the things I do is I always look around me -- everything that is surrounding me and nature -- they are all art and they are all beautiful. It's not easy for some people to understand, but still they can see it. Many people face so many catastrophes that change their mentality. Sometimes those things even take away their love for one another, even their love for life, but art shows you that there is always a new world, a new life and hope. It helps you think that you have a part of you that can do better for yourself and for others.
Art has been my passion since I was young. Some of the greatest times when I was younger were drawing and creating art from recycled materials. After the 1994 genocide, I would say that art kept me strong after what happened. I saw many sad people, and my art tells me that I am not the only one. This always wakes me up and tells me that I have to find love in my art and give it back to my people and let it heal me and them.
Mary Daniel: Tell me about Uburanga Arts Studio. How and when was it started, and what is its mission?
Bakunzi: Uburanga is a Kinyarwanda word that means "The Beauty." It was started in March 2010 by myself with the goal of uniting Rwandan local artists to work together on a journey of developing art in Rwanda. Because of our past history and the Genocide, art has been suffering a lot, and there were no schools and not enough opportunities for artists to express themselves. This was a good time for us to stand up and do something for ourselves and human society. We also believed that Uburanga could support the reconciliation and help the younger generations to have the idea that art can help our society, save our environment, and build a sustainable social life between Rwandans and the rest of the planet. Uburanga also has the goal of helping youth to discover their own talents while they are still young and help fight poverty and build a greater future for them.
Mary Daniel: I know you do a lot of great work with sharing painting and art making with your community in Rwanda. Can you tell me more about that?
Bakunzi: I become a professional artist in 2005, and in 2007 I started volunteering at Gisimba Orphanage, a place that God worked through to save my life and my siblings and many other people. Since then, I give my time to the kids who live there twice a week to work with them and inspire these brothers and sisters and help them walk through the dark to the light. Finally me and my fellow artists in Rwanda -- we kept working so hard to do better in 2010, and that's when I opened Uburanga Arts Studio to build a strong team that can help one another and also help the community. This way we can reach as many youth as possible.
Mary Daniel: What excites you most about your work right now?
Bakunzi: I am so happy that there are many good people in this world who love and admire my work. When I saw the e-mail that I had won an AHN Award, it brought tears in my eyes. I felt like I mean something to this planet. Whenever I see many people -- youth and adults -- come to visit Uburanga Arts Studio and admire what we do, it makes me happy and gives me energy to keep it up. When I see that I have company, especially the youth who come to learn art and other skills -- it makes me feel complete.
Mary Daniel: What advice do you have for other artists who wish to use their creativity for healing and transformation?
Bakunzi: I would let them know that there is a reason why we exist. We mean a lot to this planet for now and its future. We can make good change and bring hope to the environment.
Mary Daniel: Is there anything else you would like to share?
Bakunzi: I am very thankful to the Arts & Healing Network for appreciating my work! I dedicate this award to my family, all Rwandans, art lovers everywhere in this world, and to the artists at Uburanga Arts Studio.
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