MPR Consulting - The African Artists Coalition is proud to announce that Rwandan-Canadian Artist Maïa Lépine has created a series of the very first Rwandan imigongo art* NFTs, and was subsequently chosen as a featured artist for the launch of (San Diego based) Humbl ‘s new NFT Marketplace.
An NFT is a digital token encrypted with the artist's signature on the blockchain -- a digital ledger that is the backbone of cryptocurrencies allowing sellers and buyers to verify authenticity and ownership. Virtual art faces unique challenges that physical art does not, as it can be copied and disseminated any number of times on the internet, reducing its value. NFTs ensure that a buyer has the true original directly from the artist. In the past month alone, top NFT platforms have sold nearly $500 million in digital assets, according to CryptoSlam.
The marketplace showcased her Strong Woman piece on their login page, the latter selling out within 30 minutes, and also minted six of her NFTs based off of her original artwork. In an effort to bridge the gap between traditional African Artistry, and the future of digital arts; Maïa Lépine who spearheads the African Artists Coalition, utilizes her artistry to represent, celebrate and promote Rwandan cultural heritage. African Arts being a large portion of the World Art Market’s revenue, it was important to Maïa to pave the way for her fellow african artists and lead by example in this ever-evolving digital landscape.
"I paint from an emotional place. I often refer to it as my therapy because when I paint, I lose myself in time & space - and am able to release whatever I'm feeling, and in its stead a new creation takes form. It provides me with an immense source of pride to be able to continue Rwandan traditional style artistry and expose others to its history." She explained of her art.
"My goal is not only to share my personal voice as a creative, but also introduce an updated narrative as it relates to its country of origin. Rwanda is SO much more colorful than its dark history. The beauty of our human experience is that we can each share our own unique perspective. Looking forward to sharing mine with you!” - Maïa
Imigongo* is an art form of painting which originated back in the 18th century in the Province of Kibungo (southeastern Rwanda). Kakira, son of Kimenyi, King of Gisaka was said to have invented the art of embellishing houses and making them more attractive. To decorate his inside walls, cow dung was used, in geometric patterns with prominent ridges. Then, the surfaces were painted in red and white colors made from natural soil (white from kaolin, red from natural clay with ochre), or else in shining black made from the sap of the aloe plant - ikakarubamba - mixed with the ash of burned banana skins and fruits of the solanum aculeastrum plant. This art style almost died out in the mid 1990s; however today it is thriving and doing well; providing income for Rwandan women and their families. Imigongo artwork was (and is) mostly done by women – there are co-operatives today in Rwanda that keep the art form alive.
Currently holding informative sessions and workshops, Maïa has been not only focusing on sharing her own artistry, but also on providing resources & expertise to other fellow African artists who are seeking to expand their artistry’s reach. With a focus on legacy preservation and heritage celebration, this is the first of many strategic collaborations with the next generation of African Arts & Art Dealing.