Amref Health Africa’s ArtBall and Auction Honors Artist Julie Mehretu and the Power of Ethiopian Youth 

Amref ‘ArtBall’ by Johanna Siring

Amref Health Africa, the largest African-based NGO in the world, reaches over 20 million people per year across 35 countries in Africa with healthcare programs. 

This winter, Amref Health Africa (Amref) will host their annual ArtBall event and adjoining Contemporary  African, Pan-African, and Black Art auction, honoring Ethiopian-born artist Julie Mehretu, to benefit Kefeta, Amref’s unprecedented youth empowerment program in Ethiopia, in partnership with USAID. 


Amref ArtBall and Auction

On February 25, 2023 at 26 Bridge in Brooklyn, NY, Amref Health Africa will host their annual ArtBall event  and adjoining art auction, creating a connection between African culture and philanthropy to celebrate and  highlight the talent of the African continent. This year Amref Health Africa will honor world-renowned  Ethiopian artist Julie Mehretu with the Rees Visionary Award. 

Amref ‘ArtBall’ by Johanna Siring

ArtBall features a Contemporary African, Pan-African, and Black art auction, entertainment, food and  beverages from award-winning Black-owned vendors, an installation, and an award ceremony, and has grown  from just over 300 attendees to nearly 800, with an emphasis on the African diaspora. Notable hosts and guests  have included Solange, Swizz Beatz, Alicia Keys, Chris Rock, Antwaun Sargent, Kimberly Drew, Hank Willis  Thomas, Isolde Brielmaier, Shantell Martin, Nina Chanel Abney, Jack Shainman, Young Paris, and many more. 


The auction will consist of around 30 pieces of Contemporary African, Pan-African and Black Art from  emerging and established artists. The ArtBall auction will run via Artsy: Feb 13-27, 2023. The proceeds of the  auction will benefit Kefeta. Past auction artists have included Wangechi Mutu, Amoako Boako, Otis Kwame  Kye Quaicoe, Awol Erizku, and more. 


Julie Mehertu

Born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, contemporary visual artist Julie Mehertu is known worldwide for her multi layered paintings of abstracted landscapes on a large scale. Informed by politics, literature, and music, Mehretu’s works engage us in a dynamic visual articulation of contemporary experience, a depiction of social  behavior and the psychogeography of space. 

Julie Mehretu - Courtesy of Marion Goodman Gallery
Julie Mehretu | Courtesy of Marion Goodman Gallery


In an exciting and unprecedented partnership with the US Agency for International Development (USAID), Amref has been running the Kefeta program (meaning “to elevate” in Amharic) over the last year. Through Kefeta, we are working together with two million of Ethiopia’s young adults (ages 17-29) across 18 cities to amplify their voices and their role in community development to address the growing unemployment gap across the country that they face. 

In Ethiopia, 67% of the urban population is under 29 years old. The potential of these young people must be harnessed to achieve the country’s ambitions to lift its citizens out of poverty and become a lower-middle income country by 2025. Currently, Ethiopia has an unemployment rate of 27%. To aid in this, Kefeta has built strong and sustainable networks of youth-focused organizations that are  providing a comprehensive range of integrated career, health, enterprise, and financial services.  

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