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Wrong Mindset, poverty bane of art in Nigeria

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Senior lecturer at the Department of Fine and Applied Arts, University of Benin (Uniben), Dr Theresa Osaigbovo, has posited that wrong mindset of the people and poverty form the biggest challenges to the study, practice and appreciation of art in the country.
 
Osaigbovo who also facilitates platforms for training and skills acquisition in Edo State, however, noted that the wind of change is blowing in the subsector as Nigeria now gives credence to creativity, innovation and handwork for people to survive the harsh economic condition.

The print design artist admitted that the attitude of most people towards the visual arts is that of disrespect as parents, according to her, would rather prefer that their children study medicine, pharmacy, engineering, law, architecture and so on, in school.

 
“In my opinion, the challenge facing art practice and appreciation in Nigeria is essentially that of wrong mindset.

The thought of most people towards visual arts in this nation is that “art is for the never-do-wells.

Most persons would rather prefer their children to go for medicine, pharmacy, engineering, law, architecture and so on.

It seems ridiculous to most parents that their children are exhibiting artistic traits not to talk of going to study visual arts in the university.

This wrong mindset and poverty seem to be the major challenges facing the practice and appreciation of art in Nigeria.
 
“Yes. And that’s because the wind of change blowing in Nigeria today now give credence to creativity and innovation and hand work for people to survive in the harsh economic condition.

I see visual arts in the Nigeria as the stone, which the builder rejected that has become the corner stone.

People are gradually appreciating the values inherent in the knowledge of visual arts.

The green light is gradually unveiling itself in our university, for instance, through the large number of students studying visual arts.

The number of students has significantly improved,” she said.
 
Osaigbovo, who practices textile art for apparels or clothing, described her style as ‘functional art because of its utilitarian value,’ just as she also described her recent fourth solo show as ‘impressive.’
 
“The main function of a textile art is for apparels or clothing. Hence, I would describe my art a functional art because of its utilitarian value.
 
“I recently staged my fourth solo show titled; “Iwinaobomwen I” (The Works of my Hands I), at the Department of Fine and Applied Arts, University of Benin, Ekehuan Campus, and the reception was very impressive.

It had a very warm reception as it was also a show that gave the opportunity for the town and gown to meet and interact.

The title of the show actually attracted so many people from outside the university.

They seemed to have been anxious to see as well as listen to the statement I had to make on the need for people to acquire skills in view of capacity building.

 
On how she combines classroom and practice, Osaigbovo admitted the enormity of the tasks, but said her passion for the occupation drives her further, even as she urged Nigerians to strive to acquire skills outside their preoccupations.
 
“Managing classroom and practice is an enormous task.

However, it is a task that must be done if you are really passionate about imparting your knowledge on others as well as practice your profession.

It is really not easy managing both ends effectively without God’s grace, because I find myself working all day either teaching in the classroom or working in the studio.

It really takes a lot of sacrifice and self-denial to be able to combine classroom work with the studio practice,” the artist said.
 
“Well, as a trained teacher, I derive pleasure in teaching and imparting of knowledge.

The passion I have for teaching does not end in the classroom.

I see myself talking to people around me on the need to acquire a skill towards self-reliance and economic empowerment.

 
“The skills I have acquired in the area of textile design and other areas of visual arts always stimulate me to talk, teach and encourage the youths and women to acquire skills that would make them useful and relevant in the society.
 
“In fact, the statement I want to make is that ‘irrespective of your area of specialization, endeavor to acquire an extra skill’.
 
“It is like saving for the rainy day.

For example, as a graduate with an additional skill, if the white collar job is not forthcoming, the acquired skills could yield something positive for self-sustenance.

The strong message I have for the younger generation is that “there is dignity in labour and every human being is endowed with one form of skill or the other that needs to be harnessed for self-sustenance”.

Please go and acquire a skill today for a better tomorrow,” she said.
 
On her plans for the future in terms of solo exhibitions and other skills acquisition fora, Osaigbovo said: “My plan in terms of exhibitions is to take the exhibitions out of the campus to the town so as to make my statement on the need for skills acquisition clearer and closer to the general public.”


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