Born in the ghettos of Jamaica, Tesfa made a secret vow at the age of nine to one day live in Canada. He achieved his dream in the summer of 2009 and secured a job one month later. He worked there for seven years until a recent injury compromised his income and ability to pay rent. Landlord problems ensued, and Tesfa was forced to find alternative housing. But he counts finding a temporary home at our Scarborough Shelter as a blessing in disguise – it’s here that he has rediscovered his passion for the visual arts.
“I was born an artist,” he states. “I’m a songwriter, singer, rapper, D.J. and storyteller. I have 23 songs on YouTube and music on the internet across six sites.” He also adds that his artistic vision for fine art had stalled since coming to Canada. He had been too busy working full time, and his art skills were “just lying there, dormant,” waiting to be exercised.
His participation in the art program has now become a part of his weekly routine. Outside of program hours, staff will usually find Tesfa up at the crack of dawn working on his drawings. The stillness of those early hours provides peace and quiet, giving him the ability to better focus. While he enjoys sketching and working with colours, his ultimate goal is to develop his painting style in the footsteps of two great masters, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo.
Tesfa also wants to be an inspiration. “There are a lot of people with a lot of problems here, so I try to stay focused with my artwork. I want to inspire them,” he says. His re-dedication to visual arts has also brought him a measure of courage and happiness. He feels positive about the future. “Artwork is food for me and I want to feed the thoughts of others with this kind of food.”
Tesfa feels blessed to be nominated and if he wins, he hopes to receive additional materials and a plaque with his name on it. He can think of no better way to celebrate his efforts. It’s been a long road, but worth every mile.
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