ELIZABETH, NJ - He speaks six or seven languages, including Swahili, the Nyanja and Bemba languages he learned in Zambia, Lingala (which he knows from Congo), French, and English. But there is one other language that is dear to refugee, Marcel Chishimba's heart, and that is the language of art; specifically, painting.

Chishimba is a refugee who settled in Elizabeth, NJ, in July, 2019, whose work will be displayed  March 6 to April 24, 2020, at the Maplewood Public Library. Chishimba, born in 1950 in Democratic Republic of Congo, has much wisdom in painting and life experiences.  He has painted since he was a young boy, when he was taught by his uncle, an acclaimed artist in Congo.

In 1993, after the death of his first wife amid extreme conflict in his homeland, Chishimba fled south to the Zambian border as a refugee. Chishimba’s life as a painter continued sporadically while he lived in a Zambian refugee camp with his family and second wife, Mary.  Never one to falter in the face of challenges, Chishimba painted and sold portraits and landscapes for nearly 20 years living in the camp, in order to buy enough food to feed his family.  His stunning portraiture caught the attention of former Zambian President, Kenneth Kaunda during the president’s visit to the camp.  After becoming fast friends, Mr. Kaunda arranged for the Chishimba family to move into town in 2010, where Chishimba continued to paint, exhibit his work, and teach, demonstrating a variety of techniques to budding artists.

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Chishimba and his family later applied for resettlement, spent several years in the vetting process, then finally left Zambia and settled in Elizabeth, New Jersey, in the summer of 2019

Chishimba is a professional artist, with a career of over 50 years.  His genres include landscapes, abstract, mosaic, portraits, and sign-writing, in addition to some sculpting. Abstract art is one of his favorite genres, he says.

The reception for his art show will be held at the library on Saturday, March 21, from 3-4pm.  It will feature light refreshments, live music, and a 15 minutes Artist's Talk, where Chishimba will discuss his art, his inspirations, and his techniques.

His art is inspired by the culture and people of his African homeland. He is a father of 8 children.

Chishimba feels that when he's painting, he's fine, and has a feeling of fulfillment. That's why he taught all of his children to paint, as well, he adds.

The Maplewood Library is located at 51 Baker St, Maplewood, NJ 07040. Chishimba is one of the artists featured in the library's 7th annual Ideas Festival, in which a different local artist is featured every other month.

Chishimba's art show is sponsored in part by Refugee Assistance Partners NJ (RAP NJ), a Union County non-profit, all volunteer organization.  For info on how you can help or volunteer with RAP NJ, please email info@rapnj.org and visit www.refugeeassistancepartnersnj.org.