Isabel Duarte, better known as ela Duarte, was born in the island of Sao Vicente, Cape Verde. She studied
Decorative Arts in Lisbon, Portugal and Artistic Design in the Sociadade Nacioanal das Belas Artes (National Society of Fine Arts).
Bela Duarte started her career as a visual arts teacher in her native island of Sao Vicente, becoming in 1976 one of the founders of the first Arts and Crafts Co-op in Mindelo, the capital city of Sao Vicente. Together with Manuel Figueira and Luisa Queiros, she founded the Cooperativa da Resistencia (The Resistance Cooperative). This initiative would revolutionize how the people in Mindelo looked at and treated art and artists.
Bela Duarte is today one of the most valued and distinguished Visual Artists of Cape Verde. A great painter and creator, Bela is best known for the representation of her work in tapestry and batik. “The artist uses colors which most characterize our reality, such as the blue of the ocean which surrounds and dominates us and of the almost limpid sky which covers us; the red of our temperature and of our struggle for survival; the green of our stubborn hope which never dies; and the sometime dark or light brown of our skin, the result of the physical diversity of our people.” (Francisco Mascarenhas)
Bela’s work has traveled to many art galleries in the Cape Verde Islands and around the world,
including three major exhibits in the United States.
Bela Duarte has received various awards for her work and contributions to the Cape Verdean Culture,
including the Presidential Award in July of 2000.