Story by Kathryn Macdonald
“MOVING FORWARD” IS THE APTLY named, current series of acrylic paintings by Emebet Belete. In them, we view each subject from the back. In some paintings, the hair is covered by a gauzy netela or shawl. In others, it is braided with beads or tied in the colours of Ethiopia. Occasionally, we glimpse a slight profile, maybe a cheek. According to the artist, “We don’t need to see the faces. We are all people. We are all the same, all moving forward.” The paintings are uncluttered, and this is the way Emebet wants them. She hopes that the blocks of colour within gentle shapes will lead us to pause and contemplate.
Emebet’s interests in culture and people inhabit her paintings and are grounded in her life experiences. Her philosophy lives in her art. She thinks positively about culture and change. As the writer Virginia Woolf famously wrote: “A self that goes on changing is a self that goes on living.” There have been many changes along Emebet’s path. She is now settled in Belleville where she teaches and has a studio to explore the interconnectedness of memory and living.