Yaddi Bojia and wife Hewan Gebremichael

The rich, bold colors of a painting byYADESA “YADDI” BOJIA ’05hangs in the Washington State Supreme Court judges’ chamber. But none of his paintings have been called upon to tell the story of a people as vividly as those commissioned for the recent west coast premiere of “Lucy’s Legacy: The Hidden Treasures of Ethiopia.”
The exhibit this winter at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle allowed visitors to come face to face with Lucy, one of the oldest, most complete, and best preserved adult fossils of a human ancestor. Since Lucy comes from Ethiopia, Bojia’s ancestral land, the organizers invited him and others from the city’s thriving Ethiopian community to see what was planned for the exhibit.
“I met with the curator,” Bojia says. “We discussed the importance of Ethiopian art for the show, and she decided to involve me.”
The artist, a former graphic design intern in Seattle Pacific University’s Office of University Communications and now a graphic designer for Housing and Food Services at the University of Washington, provided three paintings for the exhibit. One was of an Ethiopian shepherd. “March to Adwa” depicted Ethiopian King Minilik marching to the battlefield. The third provided an apocalyptic vision of Lucy witnessing the destruction of the world by modern humans.
Bojia was pleased that tens of thousands of people learned more about human existence — and his cultural heritage. “I was able to capture what most history books don’t. While they focus on the Ethiopian dynasties, they neglect the majority of Ethiopian people. I drew on every ethnic group.”
To do so, he created 10 motifs from traditional ethnic dress that were utilized throughout the exhibit as back-drops or to accent display designs. He also illustrated a keepsake receipt book to give visitors “a taste of Ethiopia.”