Partnering with Weya artists in strengthening self-sufficiency, building cultural understanding and creating educational opportunities is our mission.
We work with women artists (and a few men) from rural Weya in Eastern Zimbabwe, buying art directly from them and selling it to people in the U.S. who are looking for beautiful and meaningful art and who want to support their artistic talents.
Women of Weya are subsistence farmers, mothers, and householders as well as artists. Most women live on their own, providing for families. Some are widowed, others are single heads of households, since throughout Zimbabwe men leave the rural areas to seek work in cities. Women’s income from agriculture is unpredictable and limited. Sales of their art help women afford food, clothing, school fees, medicines, transport, seeds and fertilizer. Since the market for Weya art in Zimbabwe is extremely limited, sales in the U.S. are critical. ZAP purchases more art than any other buyer, delivering cash at the time of purchase. ZAP celebrates the artistry and accomplishments of these talented women, and supports their efforts to become economically self-sufficient.
ZAP’s complementary goal is to communicate with Americans about Zimbabwe’s history and culture, as well as about the artists’ lives. Through our videos and through the photographs of the artists and the stories that accompany each piece of art, we offer connections with rural- and urban-based Zimbabweans. Negative stereotypes give way to images of African women as strong, talented, and accomplished.
In addition to purchasing artwork, ZAP has established three areas of support. Our programs are primarily sustained by donations.
Health Care Assistance Program: We help the artists gain critical access to health care. When an artist or immediate family member is in need of medical attention, ZAP provides support, funding, and transportation.
Special Projects Program: ZAP has assisted many individual artists with their personal challenges, such as rebuilding fragile houses, or providing seed money for entrepreneurial projects. We have also supported the larger community by completing a clean water project, and supplying a generator, textbooks, and other necessary supplies for local schools.
Education Assistance Program: In Zimbabwe there are over 1,000,000 children who have been orphaned. Most of them have lost their parents due to AIDS. The children are taken in by relatives who are often unable to pay for their school fees. ZAP has provided school fees, uniforms, other educational assistance, and encouragement to over 100 children in the Weya area.
Zimbabwe Artists Project has its roots at Lewis and Clark College. Dick Adams, a sociology professor, led students to Zimbabwe in 1994, 1997 and 1999, on programs focused on gender and social change. In 1997, artists from Weya, who were host mothers/sisters for the students, asked him to find a market for their art in the U.S. He founded Zimbabwe Artists Project in 1999 as a non-profit organization.
Our Relationship with the Artists
Zimbabwe Artists Project strives for a genuine partnership with the women of Weya. Our approach is based on the belief that self-respect comes through people’s own accomplishments. Our goal is to foster self-respect and self-reliance through collaborative projects.
How You Can Help
Please visit our Get Involved page to learn more about how you can help.