An Artistic Tour of Africa

Life can be all about connecting. By that, I mean we all strive to work together with people who are on our own wavelength. The moment I met her, I knew that Rose Luangisa and I had something in common. We both had a passion for fashion. My passion comes from life experiences in the garment center industry in New York City, where my father was a regular fashionista. Rose’s passion comes from a lifetime of exploring the fashions of her African heritage. Bright colors – vibrant reds, yellows and blues, seem to thrive in the fashion vernacular of Tanzania, Rose’s native home. She has made a career out of directing and guiding African women in creating wearables that reflect the colors and unique materials representative of her continent.

Arriving in Mount Vernon, USA from Bukoba, Tanzania in 1987, Rose began importing Ebonie sculptures to America. When Ebonie was restricted from importing, Rose turned her sights on the beauty and intricacy of native crafting by working with women all over Africa, teaching them to use their skills in a more contemporary way.

ArtsWestchester recently hosted Luangisa’s “Taste of Tanzania” event in our White Plains gallery with the formidable Rose Luangisa, where fashions from more than 30 countries were on display. It was so successful that it has been extended through the 26th of August. African women are adept at creating homegrown textiles into fashion statements. Most unusual is the beadwork that seems to effortlessly turn itself into jewelry of distinction.

Rose’s fashion practice has become so all-consuming that it includes her whole family, which has a unique role in the business and its charitable purposes. In addition to her passion for fashion, Rose’s dedication to the 500 women who work for her in small villages in Ivory coast – Rwanda, Burundi, Nubia, Benin, Nigeria, Egypt, South Sudan, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenia, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Mozambique – is extraordinary. The work allows mothers to create, sew, bead and tie-dye in their homes, while keeping a watchful eye on their growing children. The women’s work has become a powerful economic example of the entrepreneurship of which Rose has become a master.

The arts, wearables and houseware items (all on sale) will be on display throughout our gallery August 22-26 from 12-5pm at 31 Mamaroneck Avenue in White Plains.