In April of last year I was in Kigali, Rwanda to access the jewelry industry there and to write a manual for the country of Rwanda on how to make beaded jewelry. While going from market to market and asking every person along the way where I could find artists making jewelry, a taxi driver said you might want to see Inema Art Center. So we went to the Center and I met Innocent Nkurunziza this phenomenal artist / painter / teacher / community organizer- You can find out more about him and the work he and his brothers do at the Center if you google him. - I was fascinated with beads he had designed using the formula for paper beads but applying it to new and different materials. Here was someone who thought out of the box. I was so impressed with his work that I invited him back to the US to my studio to share with him techniques, materials, and marketing tools he might have a use for at the center.
Well he made it and he brought with him Fig Tree Bark (I had not seen it used for beads before). It was a great week of exchanging ideas, exploring new materials and looking at new ways to market the art work inclusive of beads, finished jewelry, paintings, and other hand crafted works. All done by the women at the Center, orphan children he and his brothers work with, and art created by Innocent and his brothers. (Such a gifted family) The icing on the cake for me was when he painted a piece of Fig Tree Bark with one of his abstract designs, cut the bead pattern he wanted out of the bark and made these beautiful Beads - WALLA!! I witnessed the birth of a new bead the Nkurunziza Bead.
These beads and this wonderful artist validate one more time for me that if you stay open and pay attention as you move through life you are bound to find the most marvelous things and the most extraordinary people.