Working with Rwandans

Working with Rwandans

Fourteen artists who met at RISD have teamed up with a print shop, a design firm and a women's association in Rwanda to raise funds through their artwork for a very tangible goal: to build community housing in a rural Rwandan village.

Jungil Hong 98 CR, a fine artist based in Providence, spearheaded the project with Yutaka Sho BLA 96 of GA Collaborative (GAC), a nonprofit group of designers and educators committed to working together to address humanitarian needs. Since 2008 GAC has 
been working with the Rwandan women's association known as Dushyigikirane to design and build 50 houses and a community center in the rural village of Masoro. The 600 members of Dushyigikirane have been active since the 1994 genocide, working to build orphanages, a bakery and a micro-credit bank.

Zaneta Hong 02 ID is among the members of GAC now helping to plan and design Dushyigikirane's latest projects: houses for low-income members and an accompanying community center complex. In order to raise the funds to make this feasible, Yutaka Sho and Jungil Hong recruited a dozen alumni artists to contribute original print designs inspired by Africa.

In the first phase of the project, called StitchWorks, the Head Light Hotel print shop has been printing these patterns on paper. Every other week this fall, the online print gallery Tiny Showcase has been releasing a new pair of prints available for purchase.

From 40 to 80% of proceeds from the sales of these prints is being donated to support StitchWorks. In the second phase of the project, selected designs will be printed on fabric - some by the members of Dushyigikirane themselves. In the third phase, fashion designers based in Rwanda will create clothing using the fabric. Every phase of the project is expected to generate funds for building materials, with the goal of constructing the first prototype house in Masoro once $15,000 has been raised. Ultimately, Hong and Sho hope to help GAC to complete 50 homes in the village, at a total cost of $670,000.

In addition to the two of them, contributing alumni artists include: Hisham Bharoocha 98 PH, Mat Brinkman 97 PR, Melissa Brown 96 PR, Brian Chippendale 97 PR, Jim Drain 98 SC, Leif Goldberg 97 FAV, Marie Lorenz 95 PR, Ara Peterson 97 FAV, Erin Rosenthal 98 FAV and Tao Urban 93 PT.

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