Ethiopian Artist Tibebe Terffa Paints Kentucky

Above: An exhibition featuring paintings inspired by Ethiopian
artist Tibebe Terffa’s recent visit to Kentuky entitled “Corralling
Colors” opened on Monday in Stanford, where he spent weeks.

Tadias Magazine
Events News

Published: Sunday, August 8, 2010

New York (Tadias) – Renown Ethiopian artist Tibebe Terffa has spent the last two months in Kentucky, where his paintings inspired by local traditions and the states’s famous horse culture, will go on display this week at the Lincoln County Public Library in Stanford.

“It’s mission accomplished, I believe,” Tibebe told the local AM news. “I never thought I could paint all these paintings. It has been very inspiring. I am having a very pleasant time,” he said inside the little home on Mill Street that has been his home and studio. “I didn’t have much stressful times. There’s not much stress reflected in these paintings.”

His ten-week stay in Stanford was sponsored by the First Southern National Bank in partnership with the city’s downtown arts program. As AM News notes, the bank’s President “Jess Correll and wife Angela met Terffa while visiting Ethiopia in February. They visited his studio in the capital city of Addis Ababa, liked his work and bought some of his paintings.”

“Just a coincidence,” Tibebe said of the Corrells’ visit and timely offer.

Per the artist’s website, Tibebe, 62, “was born in the walled city of Harar, Ethiopia in 1948. He studied at the University of Addis Ababa School of Fine Art and Design from where he graduated in painting in 1973. During the school years (1970-1973), Tibebe and his friends formed the Sixteen Young Artist’ Association that aimed at staging exhibitions around the country. Tibebe worked as an art instructor at the Medhane Alem Comprehensive High School in Harar from 1973 until 1980. In 1981 he moved to Addis Ababa, and worked as an Illustrator for Kuraz Publishing House until 1983. Since 1984 he has been working as a studio artist from his residence in Addis Ababa. He has had numerous solo exhibition in Ethiopia, Germany (Berlin), Canada (Winnipeg ,Toronto), USA (Washington), and Spain (Madrid).”

Regarding his recent works, the painter said he initially had to return to recalling scenes from Ethiopia in order to place his new and unfamiliar surroundings into perspective and to get his ‘creative juices flowing.’ “Like a tree, I have roots, a culture, a place where I grew up,” he explained. “When you have roots you can return to, you are not lost. These first paintings were a spring to get to the unknown, to start the engine, to wake up the engine.”

“What goes on inside an artist’s head and then comes out on canvas has been an interesting process to watch,” said Jess Correll, president of First Southern National Bank.

If you go
Ethiopian artist Tibebe Terffa’s “Corralling Colors” exhibit of paintings completed in Stanford will open Monday at Lincoln County Public Library, 310 N. Third St., Stanford. An artist’s reception will be from 6:30-8:30 p.m. More at

Learn more about Tibebe Terffa at:

Cover Image: The artist courtesy of and the picturesque Lincoln County Courthouse located in Stanford, Kentucky.

8 Responses to “Ethiopian Artist Tibebe Terffa Paints Kentucky”

  1. 1 Teferra Hailu Aug 8th, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    Well done Tibebe. Congratulations on mission accomplisged and for shaing his passion of painting to the people of Lincoln County. I have seen most of his inspiring paintings from his early years upto the present. They are all imaginative and soul searching. We wish him all the best and good health so that he will continue to share his painting with as many people as as possible throughout the world. He is one of Ethiopia’s original and passionate artist.

  2. 2 Yakob Aug 8th, 2010 at 10:28 pm

    Wonderful! Must do a show in D.C.

  3. 3 Meron Tibebe Aug 9th, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    I am so proud of you. You did it. I am a proud daughter.

  4. 4 Estifanos Gezahegn Aug 9th, 2010 at 4:51 pm

    I own two of Tibebe Terffa’s earlier paintings. A very talented and thoughtful artist!!

  5. 5 Leul Aug 10th, 2010 at 3:34 am

    I am proud of you!

  6. 6 anteneh Aug 10th, 2010 at 6:56 pm

    Proud of you sir, your determination and discipline is inspiring.

  7. 7 Pirkko Saari Aug 10th, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    I have been privileged to have a preview of the show and without a doubt, this work holds it’s own special place in your body of work. Always personal and expressive, THIS work is Kentucky through your eyes….. beautiful.

  8. 8 Ketema Tadesse Aug 10th, 2010 at 11:58 pm

    Congratulations on your recent successful art exhibition in the USA and for making us all Ethiopians proud. Your other works that are reflections of the society and culture of Ethiopia testify to themselves for your usual connections to your roots which is something to be emulated by all.

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