A Stitch in Time by Anne Ntinyari Mwiti (Kenya)

    Four colors have been used in this artwork, all of which contain symbolic meaning: the placement of these colors next to each other is international and not random. The artwork is mixed media and mostly hand painted, including a sense of personal history. Ntinyari is the artist’s name from her home village given to her by her grandmother.

    She grew up in Meru, in a small unknown village where peace prevailed in most places and war was foreign. She attended a top national school where all students were equal and not color, ethnicity, nor intellectual capacity of any individual student was reason for valuing that student over and above any other. Her first encounter with conflict and war was in 2007 when her country, experienced massive ethnic clashes that were politically engineered, and these rocked her previously protected perception of peace.

    This is when she discovered for the first time that she was regarded as being different from her neighbors, just because her identification card had a different name from them. In this artwork, the artist revisits her history and picks up the fragments of what peace meant to her, and what her grandparents, parents, and clan taught her while she was growing up: that peace exists within conflict; that war is the work of all people, and so too is peace; that we build or break our society with our own hands; and that the simple things in life are the most important, such as our cultural heritage, family and social statures.

    The meaning of the artwork in relation to peace: The color white represents peace and there are layers of fabric and colors that are people who have given their lives to build a strong foundation for peace, at the individual and national levels. The layer of white paint is finger painted, and represents the hard work that must be done by men and women with their hands as a labour of love. The color black represents war, conflict, death, and the filth that war breeds.

    The finishing is created using a finger painting technique, and represents the labour of evil men that work day and night to destroy any peace that has been built over time. There are dirty old pieces of fabric representative of wound wrap gauze, dry fallen leaves and twigs that represent a dead environment, and rot for the lack of peace, destroyed over time. Black and white set against each other creates a tension and balance that must exist for survival.

    Red represents blood, life and sacrifice. Without sacrifice, peace cannot be achieved. Green represents conflict, greed, money and politics, and is set against the black, which symbolizes war. Politics has been the cause of war, and that there is no peace in the world today is the result of greed and money. The red and green are next to each other to create the necessary tension that life continually presents. The thread that is the focus of the painting is what binds all these elements together and it is a stitch in time by each one of us. Based on the old tradition of darning and sewing that was traditionally done by women to bind together torn clothes for their families that were threadbare, it seems appropriate for our torn societies. We must bind them together again with love, patience and committed effort. The thread hangs loosely and the darning needle is still in place for the next person to pick up and continue this peace process: peace is not an event, it is a process.

     

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