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Ethiopian painter Desta Hagos, who is the first woman to hold a solo art show in Ethiopia, is currently visiting the United States. She was one of five artists from Ethiopia that was featured at this year’s Miami Art Basel in Florida. Desta returns to the West Coast for a 10-day exhibition of her work at her alma mater, California Lutheran University (CLU), in Thousand Oaks, California from where she graduated in 1974.


“Desta Hagos is a renowned Ethiopian artist and was the first female painter to have a solo exhibition in Ethiopia,” the announcement states. “Her work has appeared in more than 50 national and international exhibitions during the last four decades.”
Desta Hagos was born in Adwa in 1952, and she lived there until the age of nine, when she moved to Addis Ababa. Desta Hagos’ artistic interest developed at the age of five, when her father bought her crayons and asked her to draw flowers, rather than cutting them from the garden. After she finished high school, Desta joined the SFAD in 1964 as one of the first female students. Her teacher Gebre-Kristos Desta exerted an enduring influence on her style, which was also affected by her studies in the United States, where she earned a BFA from California Lutheran College. After three decades working as an artist, Desta Hagos recently opened her own art gallery in Addis Ababa.
CLU adds: “A student of Professor Jerry Slattum while at Cal Lutheran, Hagos earned her bachelor’s degree in fine arts. During her time on campus as an undergraduate, and with Slattum’s encouragement, she exhibited her paintings in four group and solo shows. Returning home to Ethiopia during a time of great civil unrest, Desta overcame gender bias to exhibit her work there. She has been recognized both nationally and internationally for her art and philanthropic work and was featured in CLU Magazine.”