Kakizi on using art to change society

24-year-old Jemima Kakizi is a creative composer whose work includes painting, clothing design and visual art. She started drawings and paintings after venturing into the designing industry, but her passion to bring about change in society pushed her to start a new dimension. The multi-talented artist spoke to Women Today’s Sharon Kantengwa about using art to change some of society’s misguided perspectives.

You’re a professional designer and visual artist. How do you balance the two?

I love fashion because I value style. I believe in first impressions and that people trust you more when you look good. I have been able to balance art and design through passion, determination and hard work and my work does not stop at putting food on the table but, it serves a purpose in the society in which we live.

How are you using art to bring about social change?

Much as I do portraits, part of my paintings focus on social change because I believe that art can be used to change the way people think. I make realism, semi-abstract and portraits. I believe art is the most efficient media to share ideas and information and a place where you are able to express yourself. I want to use art to change the way people look at certain things and discuss themes that are considered taboo in Rwandan culture, how society defines who we are and, find ways to boost our confidence and positive spirit. Some of the issues I address include effects of domestic violence, child abuse, skin bleaching and, women’s rights.

What is this experience like?

When I started drawing and painting, there were very few women in the field and as a result, few people would trust us. My hard work and self-confidence enabled me to make a breakthrough in the male dominated field. I’m grateful for the good leadership this country is blessed with as women can now hold their heads high.

How do you envision this initiative in a few years to come?

I am planning to do my photo exhibition. I want to put my art for social change out there for people to pick lessons from it. I want to take my art to different parts of the country and be able to sensitise the people about the issues affecting us.

Starting out must have been tough. Tell us about that.

I started out as a fashion designer in senior five. When I started, I didn’t have anything. I started by making earrings, then shoes, and jackets until I got clients that I would design clothes for. I realised that I could do more with my talent and decided to add drawings and paintings. My art has improved with patience and more practice and my art pieces are gaining popularity. My fashion designs have also improved over time and some of my clients include Bruce Melody, King James, and former Miss Rwanda Aurore Kayibanda during her reign, and, I have participated in several fashion shows.

I was able to pay my university tuition because I chose not to give up and I pursued a Bachelor’s degree in marketing to be able to market my products. I believe that there is no elevator to success and so you have to work hard and be patient.