Innocent Nkurunziza (1986) -- Mixed Media
Artist Innocent Nkurunziza
Innocent lived in Uganda until he was eleven years old, where he took art classes in primary school. By age 8, he was already carving on wood. His time in Uganda left him with knowledge of English and also a yearning to return to his homeland. He remembers hearing his parents speak Kinyarwanda around him as a child, but not really understanding what they were saying. As a child, he says, “You didn’t really know where you came from.”
In 1997, though, the artist got the chance to come home to Rwanda when his family moved to Gahini. Two life-altering events occurred in Gahini in 2001 for this artist. His mother passed away due to a heart attack. This traumatic event would eventually drive his family to go to Kigali in 2003 to escape the painful memories.
At this crucial time in the artist’s life, an English professor of painting from Cambridge arrived in Gahini to provide art workshops to children. The 3-month workshop started off with about 80 children, but after the second month, there was only one student left: Innocent.
At age 15, Innocent became the sole recipient of the great store of artistic knowledge from the professor. Lessons on mixing colors and studies of light and darkness led into studies on watercolors, landscapes, and still-lifes. Another artist also influenced Innocent.
Nkurunziza was first introduced to Collin Sekajugo by a mutual friend back in 2000. Collin helped to guide him through some of the different styles in which he has painted up to today. Innocent currently works full time at Ivuka Arts studio in Kigali, Rwanda.
Innocent also works with women and children on a regular basis, teaching them how to make necklaces from beads made from pages from a magazine. His jewelry line is known as “Nziza Jewelry Rwanda”, a name derived from the part of his surname which means “greatness”.
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