Lewa Next Gen is thrilled to announce that its exhibition, The Art of Resilience, will premiere in New York City from September 1–11, 2021 at the High Line Nine in partnership with Montague Contemporary. Featuring works by nine contemporary Kenyan and British artists, the exhibition captures the stories and faces of individuals living and working around Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in northern Kenya — as well as the tangible shift in the environment from the bustling streets of pre-pandemic Kenya to the ongoing challenges and resilience of Kenya’s communities.
COVID-19 has left Africa’s tourism industry without vital income as borders have closed across the continent. Conservation efforts, and the people who rely on them for their livelihood, are coping without the lifeblood of robust tourism with little recourse. Funds from the sale of the works exhibited will go to Lewa, a non-profit, UNESCO World Heritage Site in northern Kenya that invests heavily in local communities through programs ranging from education and healthcare to clean water projects and micro-enterprise. Lewa is a catalyst for change and a global model for successful community-based conservation.
In October 2020, filmmaker and Next Gen committee member Charlie V. Rose and oil portraitist Pie Herring approached Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and Next Gen chair Laura Day Webb. Their idea was simple: To visit the communities surrounding Lewa to document and give a platform to those directly affected by the drop in tourism due to COVID-19. The work would highlight the importance of Lewa’s community-driven conservation model, with their sale benefitting Lewa’s much-needed efforts.
Day Webb, who is currently pursuing her master’s in art business, saw an opportunity to expand on the initial concept by including Kenyan artists whose works highlight the local issues Lewa advances. The Art of Resilience offers a sweeping sense of the interplay between art, community, and conservation through the eyes of the surrounding community.
The exhibition encompasses works by Anyango Mpinga, Charlie V. Rose, Dennis Muraguri, Elias Mung’ora, Joel Kioko, Mary Ogembo, Migwa Nthiga, Paul Onditi, and Pie Herring, with mediums including oil on canvas, prints, mixed media, photography, videography, textiles, and dance.
Through The Art of Resilience, Lewa Next Gen aims to fostera dialogue around key local issues, including access to education and healthcare, expansion of microfinance programs for women, and sustainable livelihoods — and for a new audience to discover the merits of community-based conservation and its relationship to tourism.