Interview with Alije Vokshi recorded in 1969

Alije Vokshi

Every March, Women’s History Month provides an opportunity to honor the generations of trailblazing women and girls who have built our cultural identity, shaped our progress, and strengthened our character as a people and a Nation.

Today, we honor and remember Alije Vokshi who become the first academically trained Albanian woman painter in Kosovo in 1968. Vokshi was born in Prishtina, Kosovo in 1945, and studied painting at the Academy of Figurative Arts in Belgrade, Serbia in 1968. Last month, January 31 2022, her family announced her passing at the age of 77.

In a sociopolitical context where few women had the opportunity to pursue higher education, especially in the arts, Vokshi became a trailblazer within Kosovo’s art scene.

Despite pressures to conform to traditional expectations of a woman’s place in society, she never allowed her practice of art to play a secondary role. Determined to become a recognized painter in a male-dominated scene, she moved to Paris, France in 1977 to attend a specialized program at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière before returning to Belgrade to earn her master’s degree. Although steeped in a patriarchal art system that marginalized women, Vokshi persevered, and today stands as one of the most prolific artists of her time.

The interview above was recorded in Prishtina in 1969 and aired in the same year on the local TV channel.

Throughout our history, despite hardship, exclusion, and discrimination, women have strived and sacrificed for equality, advocate for civil rights, in communities across Albanian Lands and beyond. Today, women and girls continue to carry forward the mission of the heroines who came before them.

This Women’s History Month, as we reflect on the achievements of women and girls and pay tribute to the pioneers who paved the way.

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