Covid-19 safety measures meant restrictions on all public events and visual artists were not spared.
However, through street art, several artists are making a comeback, expressing and sharing their painting skills with the public through seven murals.
Since June, Kurema, Kureba Kwiga, a social enterprise focused on using street art in creating positive social change, brought together 14 artists, creating artworks around Kigali, that reflect upon the responses to the Covid-19 pandemic.
At the SARL Motors wall, opposite Remera Bus Park, below the petrol station stands one such large mural.
There is another at Kimisagara Market, Gikondo, Café Rwampara, Nkoto Market, Cyahafi Preschool, Rugando Market, the entrance of St Famille Church, below Peage intersection behind RSSB, and near Sopetrade in lower Kiyovu.
Relatable, yet cross-cutting to society, they depict Rwanda’s ongoing state in health campaign towards the pandemic.
Images realistically painted are mostly of young adults at various activities, at home or workplaces, wearing face masks. Others illustrate the use of sanitisers, soap, and water, alongside health directives on public safety.
Unlike street art works held before, where Kurema, Kureba Kwiga kicked off this one with an open call for artists interested to participate, resulting in more than 30 submissions.
From these, 14 artists designed, and created site-specific artworks of different responses to the pandemic.
“We focused on empowering artists to identify their own wall, then facilitated them in setting up their works in line with the campaign,” said Judith Kaine, the founder and administrator of Kurema, Kureba Kwiga.
The project made possible with support from the Kigali Goethe Institut, the German embassy in Rwanda, and Ameki Color Paint in partnership with the Rwanda Biometrical Centre.
Artists initially reached out to communities in search of spaces to set up these murals, which wasn’t easy. Gilbert Iradukunda, who together with Louise Kayange painted a mural at Kimisagara discussed the new concept to locals.
Bonfils Ngabonziza collaborated with Innocent Kagabo, Laure Bella Ange Izere to set up works at SARL Motors wall, and says it was uplifting.
Mr Ngabonziza added that accessing public spaces wasn’t easy. Ms Kaine explains the difficulty for society understanding the value of social projects like these, and differentiating their impact from mainstream commercial advertisements by companies.
Using street art, Kurema, Kureba Kwiga has over the years looked at ways public art can intersect with public health to promote behavioural change and awareness, exploring how artists can positively contribute to public health efforts being led by the government.