The Water Will Carry Us Home is a hybrid short film, consisting of live action footage and stop motion animation. The story is based upon the journey of the slave ships traveling the oceans in the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Unlike the literal telling of the history as a documentary would, the film instead expresses the emotion, and the trauma through the event of migration and separation. History and African spiritual forces cross paths in the film when the stolen Africans are thrown off a slave ship whilst sailing through the Middle Passage, and saved by African water deities upon crashing into the waves. The film is animated with cut out, paper puppets made with watercolour, outlined in ink. With no script, the story is carried only with sound and visuals, unveiled between transitions of the animation realm, and current day.


Gabrielle Tesfaye is an interdisciplinary artist versed in painting, animation, film, puppetry and interactive installation. Tesfaye was raised in America as a first-generation, to an Ethiopian father and mixed-heritage Jamaican mother, currently based in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Her extensive international travel and exposure to multiculturalism in her life, echoes itself in her mixed media approach to art making and cross-cultural content. Her work carries a transcendent and otherworldly nature, weaving ancient spirituality and contemporary social revolutionary ideas. Her research is rooted in African diaspora, Afro-futurism, ancient puppetry practices and cultural storytelling. Tesfaye uses the body in the form of mobile puppets, as a vessel to personify ancestral, emotional, and celestial ideas, transforming ancient symbolism into contemporary languages and consciousness. Outside of puppetry installation work, her drawings strongly connect with women’s issues, and strength of humanitarian unity. Tesfaye puts herself into her work, often creating self portraits which navigate her own identity and place within the diaspora. Outside of exhibiting 2d works, she uses these puppets in the animation studio, creating personal and cultural narrative films.  Her background in film started at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. Heavily involved in the exhibition installation process of her work, she masters the alchemy of turning the traditional art gallery space into an otherworldly experience for viewers to experience her work beyond the physical. Tesfaye has been internationally recognized in online and printed publications.


Tesfaye has explored the use of cultural storytelling and puppetry as community public art. Tesfaye is currently expanding to travel with her art, and create an in depth puppetry practice in the realms of audience participatory installation, animation and social justice theatre.