Eyakem Gulilat, “Untitled, 2010”, from the series Collaborative Self, archival pigment prints, 24×50′.’

Eyakem Gulilat

As an Ethiopian immigrant residing in Oklahoma, I choose to explore my presence in America as a relative ‘newcomer’ by using photography as a tool to investigate the landscape, its inhabitants, and my own Ethiopian identity. I extend my Ethiopian identity by inviting my subjects to dress in traditional Ethiopian clothing, as a metaphor for the exchange of ideas. Not only am I introducing my collaborators to a critical component of Ethiopian heritage, but I am also challenging the viewer’s expectations of what it means to have an Ethiopian or American identity. This project allows me to write myself into the history of the American landscape and, more importantly, question the boundaries that separate us from one another. The result is a collaborative triptych, which blurs the division between American and Ethiopian nationalities, photographer and subject.

Eyakem Gulilat (Norman, OK) received his MFA in Media Art/Photography from the University of Oklahoma in 2010. His work has made him the recipient of several awards including Best Documentary during the Abilene Christian University Film Festival and the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art Docents Award (2009). Gulilat was also named Outstanding Photographer of the Year by Abilene Christian University in 2004. His work has been exhibited at the Newspace Center for Photography (Portland, OR), the City Arts Center (Oklahoma City, OK), the Lightwell Gallery (Norman, OK), and at the Selam Visual Arts Festival (Toronto, Canada), among others. He has been featured in various publications including Lenscratch, NewsOK, ACU Today, Art Focus Oklahoma, and The Apache House. Eyakem Gulilat was an artist-in-residence at CPW in September and October of 2010.