Rita (2020)

embroidery thread, yarn, muslin cloth

This work is a small embroidered portrait of a woman named Rita. Rita is a Ugandan widow whose land was taken from her by her in-laws and surrounding village members after her husband’s death. The country of Uganda has laws against such acts, but it is the cultural tradition and opinion of certain rural villages that a woman’s land such be assumed if her husband is no longer alive. For Rita, having her land taken is not just problematic in the sense that her and her children have nowhere else to live, but it also means that she is losing her livelihood and source of income to provide for her family as her land is what she cultivates as a means of resources and provision. International Justice Mission (IJM) is an organization that mobilizes local lawyers and law enforcement officers to enforce the laws that countries already have in place in order to achieve justice. With the help of IJM, Rita’s land rights were restored.

I chose to embroider Rita’s portrait first because the meticulous nature of embroidering is important to my artistic practice as I require that time to ponder why and what I making, and second because Rita is a mother and a woman living in rural Africa where the act of sewing and mending is familiar.