Nairobi National Museum
January 21 – February 28, 1997
Yony Waite, Curator, Coordinator and WBB Artist
Wendy Karmali, Director
Ruth Schaffner, Art Dealer, Art Collector
Gail Berkus, Art Collector
HONORING WOMEN IN AFRICA
This aptly titled exhibition defies borders bringing together women artists from all continents into one space in an unprecedented event in the Kenyan art world.
– Peter Kimani, Daily Nation, Nairobi, Kenya
In February 1995 Yony Waite, a WBB Kenyan Artist and Curator, hand-delivered the first completed boxes for the Women Beyond Borders exhibition to California. She arrived via Greyhound bus just down the street from Lorraine Serena’s studio to personally deliver the works. Yony began to unwrap them, revealing the impact of time, energy, and creativity invested by each individual artist. Themes encompassed the emptiness of prostitution, pride and reverence for culture, imprisonment of body and soul, respect for nature, mystery and magic. Yony told us that “African women have a strong desire to interact with women from other countries. Women Beyond Borders is an enormous step in enriching and connecting us. In Kenya, women have been subjugated for years as chattel, but recently many have begun finding their voices and power. We are delighted to work with Women Beyond Borders and look forward to networking with creative groups worldwide.”
Before Yony left to continue her journey, she expressed her gratitude for the growing recognition of women artists in Kenya and Uganda. The National Museum of Kenya would go on to honor the African participants of WBB with an unprecedented women’s exhibition at the museum.
It’s wonderful being part of the worldwide web of women artists and particularly of this first global tour. Experiencing each box, as we dismantled the show at the National Museum, gave me an incredible range of sensations, from awe and wonder through shock and distaste. Judging from the remarks heard from the thousands of school children, tourists, and locals who visited the Women Beyond Borders exhibition in Nairobi, most reactions were curiosity and delight, although quite a few viewers were actually frightened!
– Yony Waite, Artist
The glamour we see in women is not always representative of her inner self. It is just a facade. This box has all that goes with glamour on its outside, but on the inside it has all the turmoil and agony resulting from her daily chores.
– Margarat Matanda, Artist
The Maasai are a pastoral people who live in Kenya and Tanzania in the Great Rift Valley of East Africa. The Maasai believe all the cattle on earth were given to them by God. The Maasai way of life is spent in moving from one place to another in search of grass and water for their herds.
Today, the unique customs and traditions of the Maasai still exist and are treasured by them. Great effort must be made by all to see that this treasured culture is preserved for the future.
By revealing this beauty of the Maasai people, I hope my contribution in some way helps in the preservation of this priceless culture.
The small portrait is of a Maasai woman painted on a fragment of a special and very useful “Oleleishwa” tree. The tree is used by the Maasai to clean calabashes for milk, as perfume, for making clubs and thatching beds.
– G. Kabura Simpiri, Artist