Current guest at the Thami Mnyele studios, Helen Zeru Araya, (born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 1980) joined the Alle school of Fine Art and Design in 2004, and graduated in wood cut printing BFA in 2008. Subsequently focusing on photography at the Desta For Africa (DFA).
Helen: "I often think of my art work as a healing process to deal with very personal and emotional incidents in my life. It starts as a reflection of these private themes and ends up entering a broader social context, touching relevant and pressing issues in society.
My art works takes a critical view of social, political and cultural issues in relation with urban development, often referencing my own city Addis Ababa. My reactions to Addis's rush to development and how this is affecting or interfering in us -the inhabitants- through this journey".
During her studies Helen worked mainly with woodcut and printing, after that she bound in to working with Photography, Installation, Video art, Performance, drawing, experimental and process-oriented art forms.
She works in a variety of materials, like wood, fabric, acrylic glass and collected objects. Often the concepts lead her to the material and vice versa.
Besides working on her own projects Helen worked with ‘vulnerable’ children from different local and international NGO’s as an art therapist for many years.
She exhibited in numerous exhibitions locally and internationally including Berlin, Vienna, Amsterdam, Georgia, Egypt and the U.S. Exhibition venues include the Studios Das WeisseHaus Vienna, EnBw Show room Berlin, 1stTibilis Triennial Georgia, Independent curators International (ICI) New York, GIZ Addis Ababa, Unversitant Der Kunste Berlin, Modern Art Museum Addis Ababa, Asni Gallery, National Gallery Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.