Salem Mekuria, an associate professor of art at Wellesley College, makes films because she is interested in opening up history and memory to visual investigation and, in the process, interpreting, challenging, complicating, inscribing, and re-inscribing the stories, histories, and identities of individuals and communities in Africa and the African diaspora.
At Radcliffe, Mekuria will complete a feature screenplay, Grass in the Wind. The story features Yodit, a young Ethiopian woman born and raised in prison in the 1970s who now lives in the United States. Named after a notorious eleventh-century Ethiopian queen, Yodit is caught up in an intricate maze of personal and national histories as she relentlessly pursues the queen’s story and ends up exhuming the truth of her own tragic past.
Among Mekuria’s academic awards are a Fulbright Scholar award, a New England Media Fellowship, the Rockefeller Foundation Intercultural Media Fellowship, and a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation production grant. Her films include Ruptures: A Many-Sided Story (2003), a triptych video installation, and Ye Wonz Maibel (Deluge) (1995), a one-hour documentary. She has won the Heart of Festival award from the Vermont International Film Festival; First Place, Prized Pieces, National Black Programming Consortium; and a Director’s Citation, Black Maria Film and Video Festival. She has shown her work at the fiftieth Venice Biennale, Italy; CinemAfrica Film Festival, Stockholm, Sweden; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC; Documenta 11; The House of Film Culture, Berlin, Germany; and the African Film Festival, Lincoln Center, New York City.