Collecting The Pieces-Rwandan Artist Crista Uwase

Words +Art: Crista Uwase


It was mid 2013 when Crista became interested in making paper dresses and began using magazines to create art. She fell in love with the delicateness of paper and incorporated it in creating collages ever since. Most of her works are painted with bits of torn paper pasted onto canvas. The work is composed of many layers of torn paper which are formed from different colours, textures, and weights of paper from various magazines or other printed material. The work created also includes fibre applied by hand, or sewing machine. Fibre and paper are regarded as simple, the kind of media women are likely to choose.  Often, works created with these materials are categorized as crafts. However, Crista chooses to continue using them to create “ART.”

Crista’s works consistently celebrate Blackness, and challenge the notions that Black skin is a curse. For some Rwandan women, the pressure to have light skin is constant being that dark skin is regarded as a liability, and prohibits them from embracing the Blackness of their skin. Crista wants African/Rwandan women to feel proud, embrace their Blackness, and converse with her audience regarding the importance of seeing Black figures/portraits in Rwandan art which are often looked at in a negative way.  She also aims to promote positive self-conception among dark complected people.