Yadesa Bojia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Yadesa Bojia
Yadesa Bojia-portrait.png
Born (1970-07-09) July 9, 1970 (age 48)
Ambo, Ethiopia
Education Seattle Pacific University, Seattle Central Community College
Known for Art, Graphic design, Political activism
Notable work African Union flag
Style African impressionism
Website yadesabojia.com

Yadesa Bojia (b. Ambo, Ethiopia in 1970) is a Seattle-based Ethiopian graphic designer and artist. Bojia has exhibited regionally since 2006. In 2010, he rose to international acclaim when his design was selected for the African Union flag. Bojia has shown his work in exhibitions, completed commissioned works, and given public talks about the themes of his work, including human rights, minority rights, Africa, and justice. Bojia's style as a painter draws on African impressionism.



Bojia was educated in Art and Visual Communication in Seattle. He came to the United States at age 25 in 1995 as a political refugee.[1] He is from the Oromo ethnic group, the largest minority in Ethiopia.[2]

His style as a fine art painter draws on African impressionism. He works primarily in acrylic and oil, using bold colors and shadows. In commentary about his work, Bojia claims that he paints to raise awareness of issues related to human rights.[3][2]

Bojia has been commissioned to paint a variety of works, from portraits to abstract images of themes central to justice and equality. Since 2006, his work has been featured featured in art exhibitions in the Pacific Northwest region. He has been invited to speak on panels and in interviews about his work.[3][4][5][6]

African Union flag[edit]

Bojia's profile as an artist rose to international significance in late 2009 when he found out his design was selected by a jury to be the winner of an international competition to create the new flag design for the African Union. Bojia learned his was the winning design when he was watching Larry King Live on television and saw his flag projected behind former Libyan dictator Muammar el-Qaddafi, then president of the African Union. He called the competition organizers who confirmed he was the winner. In 2010 his family was flown to Addis-Ababa to accept the award.[7][8]

News of his success brought media coverage in his country of origin and among the Ethiopian Diaspora, particularly those from his ethnic group, the Oromo people.[9]

After receiving this award, Bojia has had increased visibility as an artist. In addition to regional showings of his paintings in exhibitions, Bojia has been invited to speak about art, human rights, minority rights, Ethiopia, and Black Lives Matter in interviews, conferences, and at public gatherings.[10][7][11][2]


  • Art/Not Terminal Gallery at Seattle Center "Truth Be Told" Dec. 2, 2016 - Jan. 2, 2017; Solo show[2]
  • Columbia City Gallery, "Black Lives Matter," May 2015; Group show[12]
  • Northwest African American Museum, "Ethiopian Treasures, November 6, 2010; Group show, curated by Leul
  • Northwest African American Museum, June 26 - August 7, 2010; Solo show, curated by Flavia S. Zúñiga-West
  • Seattle Municipal Building, Group show, curated by Esther Ervin
  • Tashiro/Kaplan Building in Pioneer Square, solo show, "Interpreting the Black Journey," Jan 6 – April 15, 2010
  • South Seattle Community College Gallery, "Here to There," May 19 – June 13, 2008; Solo show
  • Studio 911, Yadesa Bojia, November - December, 2007; Solo show
  • Artist Gallery of Seattle, "The Invisibles," August - September, 2007; Solo show, curated by Bryan Ubagns
  • Artist Gallery of Seattle, Yadesa Bojia, December 2006 - June 2007; Group show

Selected publications[edit]

  • Contributor, All Power: Visual Legacies of the Black Panther Party (2016) Minor Matters Books. ISBN 9780990603672
  • Illustrator, Lucy's Legacy: the Hidden Treasures of Ethiopia: Recipes from Afar and Near (2008); Editor, Judy Gouldthorpe. Documentary Media. ISBN 9781933245140

Personal life[edit]

Yadesa Bojia was born in Ambo, Ethiopia, to a well-to-do family. When Bojia was two years old, his father, Zewge Bojia, was killed by a member of the revolutionary army during the Ethiopian civil war. Bojia's father had been a politician, elected by popular vote three times to serve in the Ethiopian parliament during the reign of monarch Haile Selassie. He had also co-founded the Mecha and Tulema Self-Help Organization.[citation needed] After the death of his father, Bojia and his family moved to Addis Ababa where Bojia attended elementary and secondary schools before immigrating to the United States.

As a child, Bojia said he admired the bold lines of Orthodox Christian drawings and these images spurred his interest in art.

One of Bojia's brothers lives in Washington, D.C. and was interviewed by Thomas Friedman for his book, Thank You For Being Late.[14]

Bojia is married to Hewan Gebremicheal, and they have two children, Becca and Isaiah Bojia.[11]


  1. ^ Staff (Summer 2009). "Creating a Tapestry of His Cultural Heritage". Seattle Pacific University: Response. 32:2: News – via Website. 
  2. ^ a b c d Johnson, Barry (2017-12-01). "Yadesa Bojia Speaks for the People in 'Truth Be Told' - City Arts Magazine". City Arts Magazine. City Arts Media. Retrieved 2018-09-13. 
  3. ^ a b "Human Rights Issues: Artist Yadesa Bojia". SBS Your Language. Retrieved 2018-08-30. 
  4. ^ "Diaspora Tour • Seattle Colleges". seattlecolleges.com. Retrieved 2018-08-30. 
  5. ^ Edge, Lisa (January 18, 2017). "The truth of the matter: King Street Station exhibition showcases diversity of artists of African descent". Real Change. Retrieved 2018-09-13. 
  6. ^ "Frye Art Museum". Frye Art Museum. Retrieved 2018-09-13. 
  7. ^ a b Mudede, Charles (August 19, 2015). "The Man Behind the Menus". The Stranger. Retrieved 2018-09-13. 
  8. ^ Afeworki, Agazit (May 19, 2015). "Shoreline Artist Designs Bright Symbol for African Union Flag". Shoreline Area News. Retrieved September 14, 2018. 
  9. ^ "Daybreak Africa". VOA. Retrieved 2018-09-13. 
  10. ^ Staff (May 20, 2013). "Yadesa Bojia Reflects on African Union Flag on 50th Anniversary". Tadias Magazine. Retrieved September 14, 2018. 
  11. ^ a b Dizik, Alina (2017-05-10). "When Your Kid Is the Family Photographer". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2018-09-13. 
  12. ^ "Black Lives Matter". The Stranger. Retrieved 2018-09-13. 
  13. ^ Bojia, Yadessa; Fasil, Mahlet (September 2016). "Ethiopia: Yadessa Bojia - On Art and Activism - 'Where There Is Pain There Is a Loud Noise'". Addis Standard (Addis Ababa). Retrieved 16 September 2018. 
  14. ^ News, A. B. C. (2016-11-14). "Book Excerpt: Thomas Friedman's "Thank You For Being Late"". ABC News. Retrieved 2018-09-13.