Merid Tafesse of Ethiopia exhibits new paintings at the King Center in Atlanta

Ethiopian artist Merid Tafesse

Atlanta, Georgia – Going to interview contemporary artist Merid Tafesse, I had a pretty good idea of how the conversation was going to go. I imagined unlocking some tragic reason for his ten year stint working only with charcoal, gleaning celebrity goss on Rita Marley, wife of Bob and Tafesse’s long time patron, and spilling secrets about Tafesse’s mother’s relation to the royalty who at one-time ruled Ethiopia. As it turns out, I am not the supreme orchestrator of things, and had the good fortune of discussing instead with Tafesse the transformative effect that art is having on the homeless youth in Ethiopia, why seeing a monk in the airport is so funny, and how, before being taken to Pal’s Lounge on Auburn Ave. last week, he did not know karaoke existed.

Tafesse says that he, “grew up in a communist region, so everything was closed. When you go to school you have to study communist socialist, so that is like a box. That was the reason for the arts, so I could express myself.” At home Tafesse first learned how to paint by copying his mother, who would copy great works of art. She had great talent, and according to Tafesse, could have also been an artist if she pushed herself. Read Full Report on Creative Loafing.