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Artist Profile Series: Yadesa Bojia

Jhenn Whalen

Artist Engagement Intern

Yadesa Bojia received GAP 2016 funding for participating in The Invisibles. The exhibition endeavored to capture the common struggles of people of color in our day-to-day life. With over 1,000 viewers in attendance at King Street Station, it served as the largest art show for POC in the greater Puget Sound area.

Born in Ethiopia, Yadesa immigrated to the United States in 1995. He studied art at Seattle Pacific University where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in visual communication. Yadesa also received an Associate of Arts degree in graphic design from Seattle Central Design Academy. He lives in Shoreline, Washington with his wife Hewan Gebremichael, his daughter Becca, and son Isaiah Yadesa.

Yadesa believes his work is the by-product of the cultural differences he enjoyed while living in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, and in Seattle, Washington. He also believes artists have a very unique opportunity, as well as responsibility, to work for justice and equality and communicating it to their respective communities. His exposure to both African and Western art provides him a unique opportunity to understand their relationship as well as their differences. In 2010, he won a worldwide competition to design the flag of the African Union, out of 106 worldwide entries.

In speaking about his artistic intentions, Yadesa says his work aims to “shine a light on stereotypes that are associated with black males.” Connecting and discussing race relations and Black Lives Matter with different parts of the community has been a primary goal for his work. He notes a common reaction amongst viewers to pause at this work, and then proceed to investigate the deeper meanings with the artist. He says this is not only an expected response, but one that fills him with happiness to engage viewers in conversation.

When asked what advice he would offer other GAP applicants, Yadesa says:
Follow your passion and [the] message of your work. Let the meaning and passion of your work take you to places, not the other way around. Grant seekers usually fit the mold that was given to them, let the grant fit the [mold of] your work.

Yadesa is currently working on a solo show at Art/Not Terminal Gallery in Seattle Center, to open this coming December. The show will be entitled Truth be Told and is a continuation of the previous installation of The Invisibles.

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Jhenn Whalen is a graduate student of the MFA Arts Leadership at Seattle University. She tells stories of artists and their communities to connect action and inspiration for social change.