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In 2019, we were honored to host Xtina Parks during her visit to Kibera and Uweza Art Gallery. Xtina is a conservationist, wildlife photographer, filmmaker, and art gallery owner who lives in the United States and BotswanaDuring her visit, she actively engaged with our community, walked through Kibera, and interacted with our artists to better understand our work. Drawing from her extensive experience owning and managing the ROAM Gallery in Massachusetts, she provided valuable insights to our artists. Additionally, Xtina generously supported our gallery by purchasing several art pieces.

In 2021, Xtina purchased several more artworks from our gallery and jewelry created by women artisans based in Kibera to feature in ROAM Gallery. The ROAM gallery showcases African contemporary and traditional artwork in an accessible way: through stories, visual arts, photography, film, and traditional artwork while actively seeking artists who honor sustainable practices. 

In 2022, Xtina organized the “Kibera: Expressions of Life in Contemporary Art of Kenya” exhibition at the ROAM Gallery, featuring the work of 10 Uweza artists. The exhibition included over 20 paintings of work highlighting the motifs and topics familiar to the artists such as family, African animals, cities, landscapes, and some of the Kibera community itself.

Xtina and the ROAM gallery team assisted our artists in creating artist bios and video profiles, providing them with the opportunity to share their stories and backgrounds with a wider audience. For many of the artists, the exhibition, which debuted in May 2022, marked their first time showcasing their work outside of Kenya.  

According to Xtina, “When I first visited Kibera and the Uweza Foundation, my heart stopped. The students have a way with color and form that is very powerful. You will, of course, see nuances from the newness of their craft, but I saw an incredible opportunity to collaborate with Uweza and bring these new students’ works of art to the United States, to North Adams, and to my Gallery. An opportunity that neither the Gallery nor the students could ever have. For them to have their artwork on display engaging new audiences across the world, and for us to be able to show this beautiful insight into their community and perspective, that is part of the fabric of Africa, is unparalleled.” 

In addition to her invaluable guidance and support for our gallery and artists, Xtina has made personal contributions to our programs and campaigns since her initial visit to Kibera. We are deeply grateful for her ongoing support and partnership.

All included photos are courtesy of Xtina Parks and released under a Creative Commons Attribution Sharealike 4.0 license.

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