Kebedech Tekleab

Kebedech Tekleab, painter, sculptor, and poet has been an Assistant Professor of Art at Queensborough Community College since 2016. She was previously a Professor of Foundation Studies at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia and a lecturer at Howard University, Washington, D.C. where she received her B.F.A. and M.F.A by 1995.

Born in Addis Adaba, Ethiopia, Tekleab arrived in Washington, D.C. in 1989 after being held as a prisoner of war in Somalia. As part of a high school-led movement resisting the brutal dictatorship of Ethiopia’s Mengistu Haile Mariam, she fled Addis Ababa to be captured by Somalians after a border dispute erupted into a full-blown war between Somalia and Ethiopia. In those ten years, despite cruel conditions, Tekleab began her life as a painter and poet. Her commitment to speaking against injustice lives in her work.

Tekleab has been in numerous exhibitions in the United States and internationally with sculptural installations on permanent display at the American Embassy in Ethiopia and in the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington among other locations. Her honors and awards include the 2017 QCC Academic Promise Grant for her project Capsized. This entailed traveling to Uganda to document Sub-Saharan refugees living in settlement camps. Tekleab’s findings resulted in a series of installations widely exhibited. This year she was awarded a fully funded six-month residency at the Brandywine Workshop and Archives in Philadelphia.

As a poet, Tekleab has contributed to several publications including the collection, Songs We Learn from Trees: An Anthology of Ethiopian Amharic Poetry, published in Great Britain, in 2020 and shortlisted for the 2021 Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry. She has presented at conferences internationally. In 2019 she shared the findings of her Ugandan travels with: In Limbo: Stories from Refugee Settlement Programs in Uganda, at the Nineteenth International Conference on Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, held at the University of Patras, in Greece.