Welcome to The DC Center’s Center Arts Gallery Featuring All Genres of Art created by LGBTQ Artisans
Center Arts Gallery’s Presents
Mentwab Easwaran (Mentu)
Mentawb “Mentu” Easwaran is an abstract expressionist artist from Ethiopia, living in Washington, D.C. She came to the United States as a young adult to pursue her dreams as an artist.
Growing up, Mentu showed a talent for sketching, drawing, and painting, but she had little exposure to fine arts because there were no books or materials available in Ethiopia. Her supportive family encouraged Mentu to use the walls and floors of their home as her canvas. As a teenager she was commissioned to paint large murals on the walls of a new school being constructed of cow manure and mud. This was a lesson in working with unusual materials and proved to be a challenge because the walls would not absorb the paint. The entire experience inspired Mentu to change the scale of her work, which gave her the freedom to tell complex, multi-faceted stories in a single piece of art, and experiment with different materials and textures.
Mentu’s style has evolved over the years, but her work remains narrative. While she starts each piece without a direction in mind, all of her work ties back to three central themes: migration, life as an immigrant, and love. These stories have been written on her heart and she feels a responsibility to tell them honestly, from her own perspective, without embellishments and falsehoods from the media.
More recently, Mentu has focused on capturing acts of love that come from tragedy and injustice. She acknowledges that, while her canvases give her a space to release anger and frustration, they also give her space to transfer her emotions into positive energy and explore her curiosity.
Her inquisitive nature led Mentu to use a variety of materials, mediums, and tools. She settled into a style that connects her present space to the natural world. She applies acrylic paint with brushes and knives and gives her paintings more depth and texture with spray paint, jute, and other fibers. By bringing the earth to her work, Mentu honors her native Africa.
In her early years, Mentu admired the work of Afewerk Tekle, the only well-known artist of Ethiopian descent she knew of as a child. She read everything she could about Tekle, his technique, and his path to becoming an artist. Mentu took her self-study further by asking neighborhood architects and engineers to teach her about depth of field, shadows, and line making. This education allowed Mentu to develop a style of craft that is unique to her.
When she was a student studying design in NY, Mentu fell in love with Dali, Matisse, and Van Gogh, but it was the work of Contemporary Artists Gerhard Richter and Julie Mehretu that most captured her attention. Their art is powerful and complex but still balanced. Use of minimalist color palettes allows them to speak volumes through texture and depth. Mehretu uses architectural elements such as lines, space, and shapes to build composition. Richter created in stages, allowing himself to react to the progress between each layer, making his abstract works one of Mentu’s favorites.
Mentu’s most recent collection, Momentum, is currently on display at the DC Center Gallery, which is part of the DC Center for the LGBT Community. Mentu’s original art can be found at her online gallery, EthioGallery.com, and her work on products can be found through her marketplace, Coobaya.com. At the 36th annual DC Mayor’s Arts Awards Coobaya was given the Award for Excellence in Visual Arts, which honors an individual, group, nonprofit organization, or private entity that has made significant contributions in Visual Arts in the District of Columbia.
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Mentwab Easwaran Closing Reception
The DC Center, Washington DC