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Elias Sime is a recipient of the 2019 African Art Award, presented by the Smithsonian's National Museum of African Art

Elias Sime (b. 1968, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) is a multidisciplinary artist working primarily in relief sculpture and architecture. For more than 25 years, the artist has made collage and sculptural assemblages from found objects such as stripped motherboards from mobile phones, discarded computer hardware, thread, buttons, plastic, animal skins, horn and organic building materials and binding agents such as mud and straw. He meticulously weaves, layers and assembles these found materials into abstract compositions suggestive of aerial landscape, figuration and color field painting. Sime looks past the emotional weighting of new versus old, instead finding renewal everywhere, and taking greatest interest in the way that objects and ideas can connect in new ways.

As an extension of his art making, Sime is involved in the exploration of vernacular architecture. Working with curator and anthropologist Meskerem Assegued, Sime co-founded, designed and built the award-winning Zoma Museum in Addis Ababa, an environmentally conscious international art center with facilities that include a gallery space, library, children’s center, edible garden, elementary school, art and vernacular school, amphitheater, café and museum shop.

Sime has exhibited extensively around the world. The National Museum of African Art will feature a monumental installation of Sime’s work in the museum’s entry hall, which will be on view beginning in mid-October and celebrated at the fourth annual African Art Awards event. In early September, the Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum of Art at Hamilton College will present “Elias Sime: Tightrope,” marking the artist’s first major museum survey. On view from Sept. 7 through Dec. 8 at the Wellin, the exhibition will subsequently travel to the Akron Art Museum in Akron, Ohio (Feb. 29 ­May 24, 2020), the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, Missouri (June 11–Sept. 13, 2020), and the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada (Dec. 12, 2020–April 18, 2021).

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