Pax Rwanda Exhibit at Port Authority Bus Terminal, NYC
PAX RWANDA: Art that Heals the Wounds of War with Needle and Thread
New York, NY – November, 2015 – A unique collection of vibrant embroideries depicting Rwandan culture will be on view at the Port Authority Bus Terminal in the heart of Manhattan during the month of November.
The exhibit, entitled Pax Rwanda: Embroideries of the Women of Savane Rutongo-Kabuye is comprised of works by women survivors of the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsis—both Hutu and Tutsi—working together as part of the reconstruction and reconciliation that characterizes modern Rwanda.
Some of the works on display have never been shown before. Most are part of the “permanent collection,” which is a one-of-a-kind selection for exhibit only.
The collection was started in 2010 when Juliana Meehan, a New Jersey educator touring Rwanda, discovered the extraordinary textiles in a small shop in the Rwandan capital of Kigali. Meehan recognized the superior quality of their work and the importance of their efforts at peace and unity and began an effort to support them by exhibiting and selling their work in the USA.
Meehan explained, “One woman was just about to get married when her young man was killed in the genocide. Other artisans are widows; some are the children of survivors, and still others have men in prison. They work together in the hope that their children will have a brighter future.”
The textile workshop—known as “Savane Rutongo-Kabuye”—was founded by Christiane Rwagatare, a Rwandan who lived much of her early life in exile because of Rwanda’s political turmoil. Upon returning to Rwanda in 1994 following the genocide that claimed the lives of more than 800,000 men, women, and children, Rwagatare discovered a group of village women selling small embroidered items for their livelihood. Noticing their skill and desiring to help in Rwanda’s reconstruction, Rwagatare conceived the idea of a workshop where they might create these full-size fine art textiles.
Rwagatare announced that anyone interested in working in an “embroidery cooperative” should come to the local church at a designated time. More than 100 women answered the call, although she could only take fifteen with the best embroidery skills. That was the start of the workshop.
Their technique involves loading three different colors of thread onto one needle, producing subtle blends of colors that bring their compositions to life. Each unique piece requires an average of three months of meticulous effort by several artisans.
Meehan purchases the works through her small business, Rutongo Embroideries LLC, at prices set by the workshop. Since discovering them in 2010 and undertaking to sell their work in the United States, Meehan has seen their wages rise.
According to Meehan, “Everywhere I have exhibited these works—in museums and galleries in the New York metropolitan area, Washington DC, and Columbus, Ohio—people have received them with great enthusiasm and awe.”
Rutongo Embroideries Joins Circle of Sisters Expo at Javits Center, NYC
Rutongo Embroideries is proud to be part of the 2015 Circle of Sisters Expo, the largest expo for women of color in New York City.
Produced and hosted by WBLS-FM, HOT 97, WLIB – AM and Emmis Communications, Circle of Sisters hosts a variety of panel discussions, seminars, inspirational services, R&B and gospel concerts, a fashion show and more than 200 vendors and small businesses selling unique items and services all weekend–including Rutongo Embroideries!
Rutongo Embroideries: Using Needle and Thread to Heal the Wounds of War
New York, NY – July 24, 2015 – Juliana Meehan presents a unique collection of textile art from Rwanda on display at the Mark Miller Gallery, 92 Orchard Street, New York, NY, from July 24 to August 23. The exhibit is part of a gallery of handmade items from around the world sponsored by “Jewel and Lotus,” an international partnership of artisans, businesses, and non-profit organizations who purchase goods at ethical prices.
In 2010, Meehan, a New Jersey educator touring Rwanda, discovered Mode Savane, a shop that sold extraordinary embroideries depicting scenes of Rwandan life and culture. This was the start of her one-of-a-kind collection and humanitarian effort to support these artists.
It began with the shop’s owner, Christiane Rwagatare, a Rwandan who lived much of her early life in exile. Upon returning to Rwanda following the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsis that claimed the lives of more than 800,000 men, women, and children, Rwagatare wanted to help the survivors. She discovered a group of village women selling small embroidery. Noticing their skill, Rwagatare conceived the idea of a workshop where they might create full-size fine art textiles.
Rwagatare announced that anyone interested in working in an “embroidery cooperative” should come to the local church at a designated time. More than 100 women answered the call. Regrettably, she could only take fifteen. That was the start of the “Savane Rutongo-Kabuye” workshop.
Their technique involves loading three different colors of thread onto one needle, producing subtle blends of colors that bring their compositions to life. Each unique piece requires three months of meticulous effort.
Meehan explained, “One woman was just about to get married when her young man was killed in the genocide. Other artisans are widows, and some of them have men in prison. They hail from both sides—Hutu and Tutsi—although they no longer use those terms in Rwanda. Now, they refer themselves simply as ‘Rwandans.’” And they work together in peace.
Since discovering them in 2010 and undertaking to sell their work in the United States, Meehan has seen their wages rise.
All sales support the Savane Rutongo-Kabuye workshop. According to Meehan, “I have exhibited their works at several venues in the New York metropolitan area and in Washington DC. These self-taught artists deserve recognition.”
The exhibit Pax Rwanda: Embroideries of the Women of Savane Rutongo-Kabuye includes original legends and explanatory posters and is available for exhibition.
Photos are available upon request.
About the Curator – Juliana Meehan
Meehan teaches middle-school English and holds degrees in English literature and anthropology and New Jersey reading, supervisory, and principal’s certifications. She is also adviser of a youth club, Citizens of the World, that teaches young people what it means to be a global citizen, connecting with others around the world, and taking action for social good.
For information on booking an exhibit, please contact:
Telephone: (201) 968-1338
Rutongo Embroideries LLC
Rutongo Embroideries Teams Up with Jewel and Lotus at the Mark Miller Gallery, NYC
New York, NY 10002
- Rutongo Embroideries – on display from 7/22 to 8/24/15
- Calligraphy by Marlow Brooks
- Paintings by Ed McDaniel
- *Blue Moon* Ethical Fashion Party || July 31st || 8PM
- A Night for Nepal – Fundraiser || August 20th || 6:30PM