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African artist brings fight against AIDS to Columbus


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Edward Rumano would like nothing better than to literally shape a better world.

“Most of my (stone) sculptures express love,” Rumano said, speaking by phone from his workshop in Harare, Zimbabwe. “What I’m often trying to show is a message of, ‘Together forever.’”

The 40-year-old up-and-coming artist will demonstrate and sell his work at Arts for AIDS, an afternoon family gathering and evening dinner fundraiser Saturday at Mill Race Center. Proceeds from the event, and from the sale of Rumano’s work, will benefit five HIV/AIDS-related organizations linked to local residents.

Those organizations also are sponsoring the event.

Rumano also will speak about his art at 6 p.m. Dec. 6 at the Indiana University Center for Art and Design — Columbus at Third and Jackson streets.

His work, which features everything from embracing families to graceful animals, is part of collections at the Zimbabwe Heritage Gallery and National Art Gallery, both in Harare, Zimbabwe.

“I try to express the beauty of nature, the beauty of human beings,” he said. “And my message is loud about peace and harmony.”

That message is his way of highlighting another side of a country long plagued by political unrest and a continent often marked by bloodshed and all-out war.

He did his first AIDS benefit in 2010 in Beijing, China, because of his desire to make a difference in that fight.

“I feel so great to help others,” he said.

With about 20 percent of its people ages 15 to 19 living with HIV, Zimbabwe has one of the highest HIV and AIDS infection rates in the world, according to the World Health Organization.

“It is going down, but it is still there and still high,” he said. “When the children are born and have to grow up HIV positive, that is so hard.”

Rumano began sculpting in 1994, after abandoning plans to be a teacher. He became successful enough to pursue art full time.

Columbus’ Cindy Chapman, a member of Columbus’ Granny Connection, an organization that helps orphaned children in African nations, first met Rumano in 2006 when she visited Zimbabwe.

“I really liked his work, and knew it could be popular here,” said Chapman, who is among a group of 10 organizers of the weekend event.

She has arranged for 60 of his smaller pieces, priced at $200 to $950, to be available for purchase Saturday.

“I thought it would be nice to have the smaller, less expensive pieces so more people could enjoy his work in their home,” Chapman said.

Rumano’s father, 86, a sculptor himself for years who also made cookware, no longer works. But he’s proud to see his son’s talent.

“He’s very supportive — and happy that I’m making a good living,” Rumano said.

Rumano regularly supports the Matthew Rusike Children’s Home for neglected and abandoned children in Epworth, Zimbabwe. Columbus’ Judith Gillespie, one of the organizers of Saturday’s event, said she is impressed with the artist’s concern for the less fortunate.

“He keeps a close eye on what is happening there and their needs and challenges,” Gillespie said.

Columbus Area Arts Council Executive Director Karen Shrode said she is pleased to see the gathering unfold. Her agency has helped promote the day.

“I think this is a great opportunity not only to showcase great work, but also a wonderful cause that we’re happy to support,” she said.

JOIN THE FIGHT AGAINST HIV/AIDS

What: Arts for AIDS dinner and fundraiser benefiting various groups, from local to international, fighting HIV/AIDS

When: Family event is 2:30 to 4 p.m. Saturday, with $5 admission at the door. The gathering includes the Griot Drum Ensemble with storytelling, plus African arts and crafts, HIV/AIDS exhibits and children’s activities.

Dinner, priced at $60 per person, will be 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday. It will feature Caribbean cuisine by chef and Columbus native Daniel Orr; time for shopping among arts items including Zimbabwean sculpture and African and Haitian art; a slide show about Columbus’ Granny Connection’s work helping families affected by AIDS; and a performance from the Griot Drum Ensemble.

Where: Mill Race Center, 900 Lindsey St.

Information/tickets: artsforaids.org., artsincolumbus.org or at Viewpoint Books.

Also: Sculptor Edward Rumano will speak about his work at 6 p.m. Dec. 6 at the IU Center for Art and Design in Columbus.

Sponsors: Local residents affiliated with  the following organizations: Baobob Home Orphanage in Bagamoyo, Tanzania; The Granny Connection’s work in Matero, Zambia; Imani Workshops in Eldoret, Kenya; Konbit Lasante Pou Limonad’s work in Limonade, Haiti; and the Matthew Rusike Children’s Home in Epworth, Zimbabwe.

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