Artist Profiles

Artist:

ROOTS of South Sudan

Region:

Africa

Country:

South Sudan

Organization:

ROOTS of South Sudan

Media/General:

Beadwork, Home Accessories, Jewelry, Jewelry - nonmetal

Medium of Work:

South Sudan beaded jewelry and DINKA corsets

Year(s) Attended:

Santa Fe: 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018

About:

After decades of war, South Sudan became the world’s newest nation in 2011. The Roots Project employs more than 60 women from nearly twenty unique tribal groups that are known for their beaded jewelry and clothing. The colors, patterns, and styles of each piece are specific to the tribe of the maker. The organization markets and sells the beaded items through its website.

The mission of ROOTS is to provide creative outlets and financial opportunities for South Sudanese women. For over five years, the organization has raised money to build facilities, teach jewelry-making skills, and to foster an online presence for its artists. Human rights activist Anyieth D’Awol began ROOTS with a simple enough vision: to share the outrageous beauty of traditional, beaded African accessories with the world. These are not simple baubles; ROOTS’s artisans spend hours creating rainbow-hued, painstakingly detailed jewelry and other items. A collar-style necklace, for instance, might have many strands of blue and white seed beads, with delicate sections of beaded tassels and other striking details.

ROOTS doesn’t stop at giving women jobs, but also provides meals, a child-friendly atmosphere for working mothers, and even literacy and math classes to its artisans; according to the organization’s website, each artisan earns enough income to support 6-10 family members, which in and of itself is an astonishing aspect of the program. Buying a beaded item from ROOTS of South Sudan not only guarantees you will have a truly one of a kind object, but also guarantees continued support for this amazing organization and its mission.