ART HAS TAKEN ME TO THE TOP OF THE WORLD
Teacher Gerald Motondi is a household name in artistic circles.
Having been born and brought up in the heartland of soapstone sculpture in Kisii, Gerald has participated in many art symposiums and competitions around the world.
Moreover, this lecturer at Asumbi Teachers Training College has introduced scores of young people to this creative activity and written books on this subject. He is our inspiration this week.
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Gerald tells his story…. I was born at Bomware Tabaka village in Nyamarambe Sub County, Kisii County.
This village is internationally renowned for traditional stone carvings. While in Primary school, I learnt the art of stone carving by watching my uncles and cousins carve stone and started carving birds and fish.
My parents discouraged me because some boys were dropping out of school to join the carving business at the expense of attending school.
However, I was able to balance my art apprenticeship and schooling. After high school I was employed as an untrained teacher at Gotichaki primary in 1985.
I worked for four months and Joined Eregi Teachers College. While in college, two of my arts tutors, the late Elphus Webbo and late Mathew Lwangasi discovered my talent and encouraged me to follow this passion.
After graduating with as a P1 teacher in 1987, I enrolled for “A” levels examinations as a private candidate in 1988 and sat for Art, Kiswahili and Religion.
I passed in this examination and TSC deployed me from primary school to secondary to teach Kiswahili in Tabaka High School in 1989.
At Tabaka High, I introduced art in form one. In 1990, I enrolled for a Diploma in Education course in Kisii College, majoring in in Art and Kiswahili.
While in this college, I was Mentored by two famous art educators and sculptors Elkana Ongesa and John Dianga.
After graduating I would teach in various high schools for seventeen years, eight of which I was acting Deputy Head Principal.
In 2002 I enrolled for a Bachelor of Education at Kenyatta University and graduated in 2006.
I was posted at Asumbi Teachers Training College where I am up to date. I later enrolled for a Masters in Art degree at Kenyatta University and I am currently pursuing a PhD programme at the same institution.
In 2006, I represented Kenya at my first international stone sculpture symposium in Huian China. In the following year, I was invited to Shezhen City in the southern China province of Guangdong for a similar event.
In 2008 I represented Kenya at the Beijing Olympics Fine Art Exhibition and won a gold medal and an Olympic torch for Kenya.
The same year I also participated in international sculpture competitions in Dubai, Russia and Turkey. Between 2009 and 2019 I took part in international art symposiums in Israel, Canada, South Korea, USA, UK and Germany.
This is besides visiting China again on several occasions.In 2015, I created the Mashujaa Monument sculptures at Uhuru Gardens, Nairobi to mark 50 years of independence.
I also did the sculpture at the English Point Marina in Mombasa and other smaller works at the National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi.
At my rural village I started a project of training women and girls in stone carving.
This initiative not only turned around their livelihoods, but also debunked the stereotypes that women cannot participate in sculpture.
In 2011, renowned artist Elkana Ongesa and I organized an international sculpture symposium in Kisii town.
This event attracted participants from China, India, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and South America. The sculptures that were created are displayed at Elkom Museum in Kisii town.
For my work, former President Mwai Kibaki honoured me with a Head of State Commendation (HSC) in 2011.
I have co-authored several art books including the Competency Based Curriculum series of course books (Visionary Creative Arts) for grade one to five.
Fellow teachers, please nurture your learners’ talents in arts because it will take them to the top of the world as it has done to me.
Let the children give their own interpretations and expressions of the world in whatever art form they desire.
There are immense opportunities in artistic careers nowadays.