Peter Lee, recently established the Envision Media Arts Collective, Inc. (EMAC) in Kigali, Rwanda. By Tina Soong

Peter Lee, a Korean American that was born and raised in Metairie, recently established the Envision Media Arts Collective, Inc. (EMAC) in Kigali, Rwanda. Lee came back to the states to spend Christmas and New Year with his parents, Kee and Sun Lee and brother, David Lee.

EMAC, the multi-functional company, founded in April 2018, is an art gallery, a digital production studio, a media lab, a co-working space and an artists’ community. It’s services include premium documentary, digital photography, aerial drone photography, graphic design/digital art/fine art, equipment rental, fashion design, creative consulting and hands-on workshops.

It is a hub for creative minds to work among each other, to be inspired by one another and to share space, resources and knowledge to the mutual benefits of the group and to the Rwandan art scene at large.

The roots of Envision Media Arts Collective can be traced to the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village (ASYV), which is the home of 525 orphaned youths from all districts of Rwanda.

Rwanda is a landlocked country in central and east Africa, bordered by Uganda, Burundi and Congo. It’s geography is dominated by mountains in the west and savanna to the east, with numerous lakes throughout the country. It’s economy is based mostly on subsistence agriculture. Coffee and tea are the major crops for exports. Tourism is the fastest growing sector.

Music and dance are integral part of Rwanda culture.

Peter Lee went to Rwanda in 2016 for a photo/video fellowship at ASYV, where he taught photography and videography to over 100 teenagers and founded ASYV Media Club.

He noticed the great talents of the students and the scarce of employments after their graduation. He was struck by the level of talents and the level of unemployment of the youths. At the end of the second year, Peter Lee was inspired to establish a company that can employ alumni.

“I wish to continue to develop the talents of ASYV, expand it to Kigali, and create opportunities and jobs for its graduates,” Lee said.

Envisioned with this idea, equipped with a dream and a team of motivated Rwanda talents, Envision Media Arts Collective was born. The company, which started with three artists who graduated from ASYV, has expanded to 15, ranging from photographers, video producers, painters to fashion designers. They are provided with the space, equipment, and professional mentor ship to develop their talents into successful careers.

He believes that given the right opportunities, anyone who is dedicated and motivated can have a successful career in the arts.

“The purpose of Envision Media Arts is to create social impacts,” Lee said.

In October 2018, the Envision artists launched its gallery and present the first exhibition, entitled “Envision Rwanda,” a multi-media showcase of photography, sculpture, and short films that focused on the present and future of Rwanda.

In the future, Lee wishes to hold exhibitions in New Orleans.

“My goals are to show the beauty of Rwanda and promote the artistic local talents there and it would be great to eventually also hold exhibitions in my home city,” said Lee.

He also wishes to further introduce the music, dance and culture of Rwanda to New Orleans and promote friendship and tourism between Rwanda and Louisiana.

Lee attended St. Martin Episcopal School and graduated from Grace King High School in 2002. He earned B.S. in business administration and marketing from the University of Houston; and M.S. in global communication from the American University in Paris.

“Rwanda has a vibrant music and dance culture and history. Many of the students I worked with have participated in traditional dance troupes competitions in Rwanda. The dance performances are very theatrical and include traditional drums, colorful costumes and story telling,” Lee said.

“I envision to further introducing the Rwandan culture through media arts to my home city and state, as well as enhancing the mutual understanding, developing friendship, and promoting tourism and cultural exchanges between Rwanda and Louisiana,” Lee added.