ART AS A SOCIO-POLITICAL TOOL FOR UNITY, PROGRESS AND SOCIAL CHANGE
Afrikrown 4th Annual Art Exhibition, September 24–27th 2022
“ Art is defined as “Nigerian works of art produced by Nigerians in the purest form devoid of any foreign influence”
It is obvious that a new vista and knowledge is fast unfolding in the Nigerian socio-political art space. The awareness of the efficacy of using arts and culture for national integration, unity and progress. There should be a clarion call for the deepening of unity in the country through intense learning of the histories, arts, culture and traditions of federating communities by youths. Using the above parameters as necessary ingredients that would weld peoples and races throughout the history of mankind, Nigerians, irrespective of ethnic and religious persuasions, should strive to strengthen the cord of unity as this will help to sustain the renewed drive towards the historical, artistic and cultural renaissance of our country, Nigeria. This new drive will promote and propagate initiatives aimed at accentuating the best of Nigeria’s arts, cultures, values, desires and traditions for posterity, documentation, scholarly research and chronicles for historical records. There is a new awareness globally about the potency of arts and culture in promoting peace and unity in a tense country. Arts and culture are surely preferred counter measure and engaging fools for unity and progress than force of arms, insurgency, kidnapping and banditry which throws a country into chaos and displace her citizens. Nigerians should strive to attain the status of a pluralistic society to foster peaceful coexistence even though tribes and tongues may differ, but in brotherhood and in unity we must stand together to push for progress. Art offers powerful opportunities to express our common humanity, challenge assumptions, spark conversation, generate discourse, connect diverse people, inspire wonder, imagine new solutions and promote action for positive change. Creating art fosters creativity, originality and imagination, which are important to innovation, societal advances and scientific discoveries. Visual artists lead the way by continually coming up with new and exciting art forms, techniques and imagery that may delight, shock or disturb the mind. Art opens up our heart and feeds our minds and consciousness. Looking at art provides an opportunity to exercise critical thinking, experience a renewed self-awareness, and potentially even a deeper connection to others and their experiences as we share, through our works, what we feel and try to interpret what we see.
An artwork on a socially compelling topical theme can invoke thoughts in a person and this in turn, inspires people to do or act upon that thought. Art has often formed the base of inspiration for others to bring about some kind of change in the world. Art is a form of self-expression of the artist and if can invoke thoughts in the viewer. Art is also inter-connected with our lives more than we can ever realize it. In conclusion, there is no denying the fact that art can change society. These changes are sometimes direct, sometimes indirect but at the end of the day art is a powerful tool that has been used to change what society has accepted for many years and it will continue to do so as there is no other powerful medium such as art (music, theatre, dance, painting, sculptures etc) that can influence the way people think and become a catalyst of change. Art cannot tell people what to do or exactly what the problem is or the solution. It can only make people realize the reality and invoke a sense of social commitment and awakening which can revolutionize and lead to positive actions desirous of a change. I believe “Levi-Unite” will address and harness the pluralistic potentials available in the arts and cultures space in Nigeria/Africa to create an enabling environment to power socio-economic development, leveraging on the youths for human resources and capacity balding.
I must sincerely appreciate and commend this initiative by AFRIKROWN which is a multifaceted organization set to prompt the innate potentials of our youths and spur them to achieve greatness within and without, reverberating their success and harnessing human resources/capacities to develop Africa for Africans. I am particularly intrigued and exited by the Afrikrown Annual Art exhibition (AAA), the resilience and tenacity of the organizers to sustain and keep afloat the event for the past three years. It expresses the passion and commitment the team has for the development of the visual art and culture subsector in Nigeria and Africa at large. My desire and earnest prayers is that this annual art exhibition will catch the attention and interest of stakeholders, art enthusiast, aficionados’ captains of the creative industry and lovers of art to sponsor/partner for sustainability, this laudable and highly commendable initiative.
Written by; James U. Irabor (HND, BA, MFA, FCAI) Deputy Director Technical Assistant to Director General, National Gallery of Art, Headquarter, Abuja, Nigeria.