Rwandans in NY offer artwork on crypto mart

Wednesday September 29 2021
Imigongo piece

Emotions, an Imigongo piece in memory of Maïa-Lépine’s late mother. Picture: Courtesy


Maia Kayitesi Lepine, a woman of Rwandan descent is among artists around the world actively using the crypto non-fungible tokens or NFTs to connect with buyers and sell their art.

The NFT, a marketplace for the sale of digital art prints to a crypto-audience, has taken art sales to a new level.

An art piece is digitally minted into an NFT, then it is linked to a digital wallet of the artist, so when a buyer purchases the tokenised art piece, the artist earns directly.

These NFTs can only have one official owner at a time and they are secured by the Ethereum blockchain which is the underlying technology embossed with a smart contract to reinforce security.

New York-based Lepine ventured into NFT's out of curiosity, having seen the excitement around them from the artists' community in New York.

She first tokenised and listed six of her paintings on the digital marketplace Opensea, and sold four, earning up to $2,500.


But her breakthrough came two weeks ago, when HUMBL, a digital company that connects digital consumers to sellers, asked to feature her on its new NFT marketplace, and the first ever imigongo NFT was created, listed under the name Rwanda NFT.

The marketplace is showcasing her Strong Woman piece on their login page and also minted six of her NFTs based off of her original artwork, which Lepine describes as abstract contemporary influences.

Born of a Rwandan mother and Canadian father, she’s a child of two worlds but her art is a celebration of her mother’s roots. “My mother always told me what being a Rwandan woman is, in a quiet power you cannot describe but learn by watching her. She wasn't an emotional person but she sure gave birth to an emotional daughter.”

Lepin's paintings are inspired by Imigongo, a traditional Rwandan art form of bold, geometric and spiral often white and black designs, made using cow dung, that used to adorn huts in traditional villages and royal courts.