The Washington Post calls Abel Tilahun “a futurist who works in sculpture, photography and video, inspired by architecture and outer space.” Abel is a PhD candidate in Creativity at University of the Arts in Philadelphia, United States. His dissertation research focuses on the intersection of art and space science in Ethiopia and the U.S and will take the form of an artistic documentary film. Abel recently attended an intensive summer course on the anthropology of outer space led by the University of Plovdiv, Bulgaria, and Tomsk State University, Russia, at theNational Astronomical Observatory in Rozhen, Bulgaria. Abel holds a Master of Arts in Art from Adams State University and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Sculpture from Alle School of Fine Arts and Design, Addis Ababa University. He has taught as an Adjunct Professor at American University in Washington, DC and Marymount University in Virginia. He was one of ten artists long-listed for the U.K. Financial Times OppenheimerFunds Emerging Voices Award in 2016.

He has had six solo exhibitions to date and participated in numerous international group shows and film festivals. Abel’s most recent Museum solo exhibition, “Vital Signs,” was shown at the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center in Washington, DC, in 2018. “Vital Signs” was reviewed in the Washington Post, the Brooklyn Rail, and featured on CGTN. Abel has given artist lectures at the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden in Germany, Independent Curators International in New York City, Zoma Contemporary Art Center, National Museum of Ethiopia, and Alliance Ethio-Francaise in Addis Ababa, among others. His work “Sunny-side Up” is currently exhibited in the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa as part art in embassies program. Abel carries out his studio practice in Addis Ababa. He regularly volunteers as an instructor with 4-H Ethiopia, which offers free hands-on training to public school youth in Addis Ababa. Abel is also a proud member of the Ethiopian Space Science Society

Upcoming events

Summer, 2020 Columbia University Global Center, Nairobi, Kenya, Injera Emoji: Building Visual Digital Culture, with Isabelle Zaugg, PhD
March, 2020 Nesta, UK, publication of artworks "Chrome" and "Paradigm Shift" in chapter "Imagining a Multilingual Cyberspace" by Isabelle Zaugg, PhD, in edited collection Visions for the Future Internet

Recognition

2018 Shortlist, International Artist in Residency Award, Africa Centre, South Africa
2016 Longlist, Financial Times, OppenheimerFunds Emerging Voices Award for Art
2009-2010 Cloyde Snook Scholarship, Adams State University (one conferred to grad student per year)
2006 BFA Graduate with Distinction (one conferred per department), Alle School of Fine Arts & Design, Addis Ababa University

Solo Exhibitions

Currently Inner and Outer Space: Lalibela on the Moon
2019 Inner & Outer Space, Adams State University Hatfield Gallery, Alamosa,CO
2018 American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center, Washington, DC, Vital Signs, curator Meskerem Assegued
2017 Alliance Ethio-Française, Addis Ababa, Odyssey?, curator Meskerem Assegued
2014 Alliance Ethio-Francaise, Addis Ababa, Interface Effect, curator Meskerem Assegued
2010 Adams State University, Cloyde Snook Gallery, A Generation Projected
2007 Alliance Ethio-Francaise, Addis Ababa, The Blueprint

Group Shows

Exhibitions, Screenings & Publications


2019 Columbia University Global Center, Nairobi, Kenya, Injera Emoji: Building Visual Digital Culture, with curator Isabelle Zaugg, PhD (upcoming, summer)
2019 Nesta, UK, publication of artworks ''Chrome'' and ''Paradigm Shift'' (both 2019) in chapter ''Imagining a Multilingual Cyberspace'' by Isabelle Zaugg, PhD, in edited collection Visions for the Future Internet (upcoming, March)
2018-19 Columbia University, Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, Mellon-Sawyer Seminar in Global Language Justice, 4 artworks chosen for seminar posters
2018 Art in Embassies, Ambassador's Residence, U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, curator Meskerem Assegued
2018 Investec Cape Town Art Fair, South Africa, presented by Zoma Museum, Addis Ababa
2018 Burris Hall Gallery, New Mexico Highlands University, Las Vegas, Collaboration Project
2016 Colorado State University, Clara Hatton Gallery, Fort Collins, CO, Collaboration Project
2015 National Museum of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, Curvature of Events, Artists: Abel Tilahun, Gunter Deller, and Barbara Lubich, curator Meskerem Assegued
2015 Adams State University, Cloyde Snook Gallery, Collaboration Project
2014-2015 New Masters Gallery, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Germany, Curvature of Events, Artists: Abel Tilahun, Gunter Deller, & Barbara Lubich, curator Meskerem Assegued
2014 "Curvature of Events" Catalogue, by Meskerem Assegued in collaboration with Hartwig Fischer, Abel Tilahun, Gunter Deller, & Barbara Lubich
2013 National Theatre Gallery, Addis Ababa, Heart-to-Heart: Rome to Addis, curator Meskerem Assegued
2010 "A Generation Projected" Masters Thesis Paper, Adams State University
2009 Lloyds Gallery, Fort Collins, CO, Three on Paper
2009 Edge Gallery, Denver, CO, Works from the Valley's Edge
2009 Indie Spirit Film Festival, Colorado Springs, CO, ''The Hair'' animation
2008 Adams State University, Cloyde Snook Gallery, Ventero Open Press Show, Group Show
2008 Alamosa Film Festival (now Southern Colorado Film Festival), ''The Hair'' animation
2008 Adams State University, Hatfield Gallery, Milkshake
2006 Alle School of Fine Art & Design, Addis Ababa University, Undergraduate Thesis Show
2005 Alle School of Fine Art & Design, Addis Ababa University, Addis Abeba Zare, curator Meskerem Asegued

Artist Talks/Lectures

2006 - 2019


Oct. 8 2019 PhD Research talk “Art & the Cosmos,” Ethiopian Space Science Society, Addis Ababa University Institute of Technology
2018 American University Museum at Katzen Art Center, Washington, DC, Vital Signs Gallery Talk with curator Meskerem Assegued
2017 Adams State University, Visiting Artist Talk
2017 U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa & Alliance Ethio-Française, Odyssey? Roundtable Discussion moderated by Li Ping Lo, US Embassy Cultural Attaché
2017 U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa & Alliance Ethio-Française, Ethiopia, Artist Talk, Odyssey? A Retrospective of Abel Tilahun's Video Art, with exhibition curator Meskerem Assegued and Li Ping Lo, U.S. Embassy Cultural Attaché
2016 Zoma Contemporary Art Center, Addis Ababa, History and Practice of Video Art, Artist Talk
2015 National Museum of Ethiopia, Curvature of Events, Artist Talk, moderated by curator Meskerem Assegued
2015 Independent Curator's International, NYC, Artist Talk in conversation w/Renaud Proche, ICI Director
2014 Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Curvature of Events, Artist Roundtable moderated by exhibition curator Meskerem Assegued
2014 Alliance Ethio-Francaise, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Interface Effect, Artist Talk moderated by exhibition curator Meskerem Assegued
2013 National Theatre Gallery, Addis Ababa, Heart to Heart: Rome to Addis, Artist Roundtable moderated by exhibition curator Meskerem Assegued
2010 American University, Guest Lecturer, Visual Literacy course
2010 Adams State University, A Generation Projected, Artist Lecture
2007 Unity College, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Artist's Lecture on Animation & Conceptual Art
2006 Alle School of Fine Arts & Design, Addis Ababa University, Artist Lecture

Teaching

American University, Washington, DC


Adjunct Faculty, Digital Imaging, undergraduates Fall 2011 & Spring 2014, graduates Fall 2013
Adjunct Faculty, Motion Graphics and Effects, undergraduates Fall 2013
Instructor, Animation, Discover the World of Communication, Summers 2011, 2012, 2014, & 2015, 2019
Instructor, Advanced Animation, DWC, Summers 2012, 2014, & 2015
Senior Media Consultant & Instructor, New Media Center, Fall 2011- Spring 2012

Marymount University, Arlington, Virginia

Background

Tilahun was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 1983 and grew up in an artistic environment. His mother is a professionally-trained clarinetist and his father is an engineer who enjoys painting. Tilahun spent much of his childhood backstage in the Ethiopian National Theatre, absorbing set design, music, storytelling, and performance. He earned his BFA in Sculpture from Addis Ababa University, Alle School of Fine Arts and Design in 2006. After moving to the United States, he earned his MA in Fine Art from Adams State University in 2010 and was recognized as the Cloyde Snook Scholar of 2009-2010.