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Meet Kassa Bekele

Every once in a while, someone comes through the Global Village Welcome Center that leaves you with a profound impression. There’s a lot of talent in our community that unfortunately goes unnoticed. We live in a fast paced world and don’t often stop to recognize the great things going on around us. Case in point, Mr. Kassa Bekele. As I’ve been preparing for the World Arts Expo I reached out to my little network of international and local artists but not Kassa. I didn’t know who he was until a couple of weeks ago when somebody mentioned him to me. I don’t remember who. Maria said she knew him and thankfully had his email and reached out to him, shortly after, I completely forgot about him. Fast forward to last week and at a meeting, somebody else mentioned him. At this point I knew that the universe was trying to tell me to stop and get a hold of this mysterious Kassa. So I asked to please give me his info yet nobody did and I forgot about him again. I’m a firm believer in threes, where the universe shoots something at you up to three times to get you to act on it however, it only took two before I get a call from Kassa. Thankfully, we didn’t have to use up that third one. On the phone, Kassa was super enthusiastic. He’d been invited to participate in an art show and was super curious about this Global Village. I asked him to come on over when he got a chance. Kassa popped in late last week where he got to tour the museum and show me some of his art.

We chatted for quite a while. Kassa is from Ethiopia, and as a child his father wanted him to be better than him. His father was a driver while his mother devoted her life to caring for others. His father wanted him to become something important like a civil engineer or a lawyer, something that would lead him on a path of success without breaking his back. As hard as he tried to please his father, Kassa was more interested in visual art. Year after year he’d come home with bad grades in his training to pursue a lucrative career. However, Kassa, was a good student and received good marks on his behavior and attentiveness. His father, realizing that his wishes may not come true told Kassa something that resonated in him. Upon looking at his marks and realizing that he may not have had a civil engineer in the making, he’d raised a polite and disciplined son. He said to Kassa, that as long as you are a good, polite, disciplined person, that is all that matters and everything else will fall into place. Those words made something in Kassa’s head click.

One day he went to a business and politely asked if he could paint a sign on their window. Kassa received a payment of what was around the equivalent of $100 which was a huge deal in Ethiopia. He arrived home that evening and told his father what he did expecting him to be upset. His father was thrilled. Kassa did exactly what his father wanted for him, to do something and succeed at it without breaking his back. The following day the two went to go buy paints for Kassa to create his art works. For the first time in his life Kassa found validation and happiness in visual art.

Unfortunately, I don’t know how he arrived in Indiana, but that’s a story for another day. As we wrapped up our meeting I asked Kassa for a photo. I walked over to our wall of flags and grabbed the flag of Ethiopia and wrapped it around me. Kassa held it with both hands and kissed it. Discover Kassa’s art at the World Arts Expo opening February 1. Meet Kassa at the artist reception on February 18 from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm.

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