Born in 1968 in Makerere, to Mr and Mrs Sseggendo Lwanga and a first born of the couple, Maria has exhibited her qualities as a first born: in the Art Fraternity as well, bringing together Artists under her studio, and mentoring many young artists, and taking leadership in the Uganda Artists Association between 2001 and 2003.
We should say, Naita was born an Artist, though this extra ordinary talent was developed and embraced later in life. Her love for art dates back in her childhood days where she drew pictures of chicken-and glued features on them, portraits of her mum, beautiful birds and landscapes. This talent was encouraged by her mother who at the same time stressed independence, she was a believer of the ‘do it yourself theory’, of her mother Naita says, “My mother was my first Art teacher”. In secondary school she enjoyed art as a subject but the thought of it being her career never crossed her mind, though her teachers commended her exquisite work in class. At a time most students dreamt of being lawyers or doctors or bankers, Maria’s dream wasn’t any different.
In higher secondary she further developed her art talent abandoning her passion for science subjects and a desire to pursue a career in medicine, a decision she celebrates today. She excelled in Fine Art obtaining a Masters degree in Fine Art in 2000 from Margaret Trowell School of Industrial and Fine Art, Makerere University, Uganda after a Bachelor from the same institution in 1992.
It’s at this school that she met her mentors and instructors, that is; Dr.George Kyeyune and Professor Nagenda. Dr. Kyeyune was later to become her partner in some of her major projects in 2005 and 2007. However; Naita did not actively participate in Art until 1996 when she participated in the Annual Women’s Exhibition ‘Women on the Move’, and has never looked back. Since then she has been exhibiting in solo, duo and group exhibitions within the country as well as abroad. She became a full time Artist in the same year, a decision that led to the establishment of KANN Artist Group and the subsequent set up of the KANN Art Studio in 1999.This initiative born together with three siblings, in which she serves as one of the directors, was for the following reasons; to unite several young artists, to give artists a sense of belonging and Provide informal art training to arts that are not privileged to attain formal training.
Naita’s work is mainly figurative, inspired by her immediate environment, be it, social, economic, religious or even political. The female form takes the centre part, the African woman being her favourite theme. Basing on her experience; onto canvas, and in wood and metal, she presents life through the “eyes” of an African working woman, mother, wife and as human being in this era, embedded in a belief that: “there is no better way of showcasing a society’s heritage and culture, or of communicating to one’s inner most being than through Art.” As asolo artist (with a supervised support team), she has produced sculptures such as building the Nation 2007 (Rwanda Revenue Authority), The Ntore Dancer 2001 (Rwanda State House), sowing a seed of Love among others.
Some of her major projects with KANN include: The CHOGM Monument (2007), Kabamba Hero’s Monument 2005 (Kabamba Army Barracks) and Journey (the Jubilee Independence monument at Kololo Airstrip). Materials used in her sculptures range from a combination of Fibre Glass to Clay to wood to copper. However, her speciality is in fibre glass and wood, with a new found love in metals such as aluminium, brass and copper. While in her paintings she uses acrylics and oil on canvas and bark cloth. She has exhibited in a number of exhibitions both national and international, as a solo artist as well as group, which have yielded several collectors for her Art works including various institutions, individuals and parastatals.
Her art collectors include institutions, individuals and parastatals both aboriginal and international, with a few of listed; Rwanda State house, Rwanda Revenue Authority, Ugandan Ministry of Tourism, Kabamba Army Barracks, The Italian Embassy in Uganda, Franko Verroca (Demised Italian Sculptor), Mr. Napolitano (Former Italian Ambassador to Uganda), Captain Alex Mukula (Former minister of Health), Mr Sentogo, Mr. Ssemboga (Director Baaba toto), Pietra Averono (Cultural Attaché Italian Embassy Uganda.)
Naita has 5 solo exhibition up her sleeve, these include; (2009) Children: the generation of Tomorrow, (2005) Black Beauty, (2001) Adornment. And various duo and group exhibitions such as; (2003) Saaba(Duo), (2000) Sowing A seed of Love, (2000) Crossing the Equator, (1998)Artistically Speaking Women, (1998) KANN Exhibition, (1997) Artistically Speaking Women, (1997) From the Pearl of Africa, (1996) Artistically Speaking Women and (1996) Women on the move.