Abel Tilahun earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Sculpture from the Addis Ababa University, Alle School of Fine Arts and Design in 2006. He later earned his Master of Arts in Art from Adams State University in Colorado where he won the Cloyde Snook Scholarship. He is currently an adjunct professor of animation, motion graphics and digital imaging at the American University in Washington, DC.
Abel grew up in an artistic environment. His mother was a musician who played the clarinet, his father was an engineer who also enjoyed painting. He spent much of his childhood backstage in the Ethiopian National Theatre, absorbing set design, music, storytelling and performance. His artwork reveals these influences, as well as a fascination with cinema and the digital realm. He keeps an active studio practice in Washington, D.C. and in Addis Ababa. His work explores tensions associated with the interfaces between cultures, contexts and eras.