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Artist Talks: In Conversation with Lilian Munuo


Tanzania-based Artist talks on her motivation, inspiration and elements influencing her art.

Spotted at her solo exhibition Outbreak: Selective Art Exhibition displayed October 1-2 at Darch, Old Boma Road, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Munuo’s works interrogates public perceptions on femininity and daily living - her work also illustrates expressions of a positive disability identity; exploring the role of arts in identity formation.

Lilian Munuo, from Tanzania, is a self-taught artist, social worker, and creative. She specializes in string art, illustration, and pencil and charcoal work. Munuo views art as a source of inspiration, a space for growth, and a medium to tell her narrative. Her desire to learn and share wonderful stories through art serves as a cradle of motivation for her. Munuo graduated from Institute of Accountancy, Tanzania with a diploma in finance and banking.

She speaks more on purpose, inspiration and influences with our curator.

Nubian by African Artist, Lilian Munuo (Tanzania)
NUBIAN. Image Courtesy the Artist, Lilian Munuo

How and why did you start creating art?

I have been drawing for as long as I can remember, from primary school till now. Art helped me cope with the realities of my environment everyday. At some point I took motivation from this process of coping and started telling stories via my artworks - showing my art at Exhibitions.

Was there a specific situation that inspired you to start?

There was a situation that pushed me to go all the way with art - when I finished my Diploma and couldn't pursue my Bachelor Degree studies. I also couldn't find work related to my study course hence I had to continue making art and I went all the way in.

How do you get inspired?

By seeing, and by hearing stories. I see scenarios, I hear stories and something just evokes in my mind… about how I can translate it into art and tell it's story. Sometimes I get inspired through myself.

How does your inspiration translate into your artwork?

Through themes, each story has a theme.

My artworks revolve around themes; the colours, strings, patterns, facial features and even materials used must evoke the theme. I did a piece on balance, each pattern used represented balance.

Do your works convey a particular theme/themes? Please tell us about it.

One of the main themes in my Artworks is hope, one person came to the exhibition and said "when+ you go through the pieces you might forget about life's challenges"

We need this escape and assurance that at some part of the day or time all is well and will be well.

Is there a narrative you tend to express with your art or do you create solely to approach your emotions?

Art instills values by changing opinions over time, therefore I create beautiful imaginations to tell different stories, including my own. To alter publicly held opinions on diverse matters including femininity, disability and our daily lives.

What was the best feedback/ compliment you received for an art piece?

I created a piece about our daily lives and portrayed it in a butterfly, one person saw the piece, understood the piece and even related the piece to their struggle as a business person; the fact that the art was engaging and relatable enough to make them share their struggles was mind blowing. It wasn't a compliment or feedback but the engagement and space created allowed the individual to share their feelings and thoughts.

Do you have a goal you want to achieve regarding your artwork and career?

Yes I do have a goals, i want to major in Arts,i want to have my own workshop where i can teach and provide platforms to other growing artists and many other activities that aid in personal growth. I want to create a gallery to preserve art in Tanzania.

Do you have other influences outside works of art?

Yes I do, I'm a disability rights activist. I Volunteer with Songambele and JWWK.

Recently received my certificate on disability rights from Common Wealth.

I also have a Diploma in Finance and Banking.

From the Disability Activism Series by Tanzanian Artist, Lilian Munuo
Image Courtesy the Artist, Lilian Munuo

MBESII by Lilian Munuo - Tanzania-based art
MBESII. Image Courtesy: Ole Vos (for Forme Femine)

MBESII: A maasai culture where women come together to celebrate celebrate a new born or a girl’s marriage.

They adorn themselves with beautiful beads and massai Masai sheets. They sing, shake beads and ornaments on their necks.

Samia (Tanzanian President) by Lilian Munuo at Selective Art Exhibition at Old Boma, DARCH, Tanzania.
Samia by Lilian Munuo - Outbreak: Selective Art Exhibition at Old Boma, DARCH, Tanzania.


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