Students and teachers of Laureate College, Lagos, were recently exposed to various works of art as a means to reawaken them to the dying culture, societal and moral values as well as rejuvenation of art in schools to make them better leaders in the future.
At the recent arts exhibition which took place in the school premises at Aviation Estate, Lagos, the principal of the school, Mr. Sadiq Ibrahim, explained that the exhibition with the theme: ‘Renaissance’ was to reawaken the student to the almost-forgotten works of art as well as correct the societal ills through art.
He said the programme was a way to make the students express themselves in the language of art, as engaging the youths in art can do a lot in curbing their excesses with a lot of aesthetics and economic value, adding that with the project, they are restoring and reviving Arts, Literature and Music in schools as well as culture and traditions in the youths.
According to Ibrahim, “We had this art exhibition today with the theme: ‘Renaissance’ because we have seen that today, the advent of technology has virtually relegated our culture and norms to the background. Our children have totally abandoned art and values and are engaged in internet, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp among other social media, and this has posed serious challenge in our hands as their guardians.
“Meanwhile, there are a lot of activities they could engage their strength and time on and such is art. For this reason, Laureate College is doing this art exhibition to engage them in worthwhile activities like creative designs, drawings, paintings, virtue ventures among others. This is a way to make them express themselves in the art language.
“Engaging the youths in art can do a lot in curbing excesses and of course, it has a lot of aesthetics and economic value. If we open their eyes to the potential of art, we believe this will ginger them to see the positive side of life. Today, we brought two iconic figures in the world of art so that the students can learn and be inspired. Art plays key role in nation building and national integration; it intertwined and by this, it promotes peaceful coexistence. It is also a money spinner if well-articulated and regulated.”
One of the invited guests and arts icons in Nigeria, Bruce Onobrakpeya, remarked that Renaissance is a very interesting and relevant topic in Nigeria now because “we are actually passing through a state of rebirth or revival. When Nigerian novelists, Amos Tutuola, Fagunwa, Soyinka and Clark turned Nigerian neglected folktales into epics and drama, we have a revival in Nigerian literature.”
Onobrakpeya, in his speech, took the students aback that through the efforts of Kevin Carrol, Nigerian art forms and images started to be used in Christian Churches. He further noted that this was not just a new growth in Nigeria visual arts but a revolution in its art history that can safely be compared with that of Egyptian King Akhnoten who instituted the worship of one God in place of many that were in place before he became a king.
“My murals titled the Stations of the Cross in St. Paul Church Ebute Metta, Lagos, were part of the Nigerian Christian art Renaissance.
“Nigeria attained a high point in our culture and artistic development going back two thousand years ago with NOK sculptures in Jos. Similarly Ife terra cottas and bronzes, Benin and Igbo Ukwu bronzes and Esie stone carvings among other Nigerian antique works are world famous. These classical periods were followed by periods of decline one of which was the result of colonial occupation of our territory.
“In the beginning of the 20th century, our arts began a process of revival with the paintings of Aina Onabolu, who seemingly inspired by art from Europe was actually an incarnation of Ife realism. Ben Enwonwu and a few others artists from the Murray school then followed. Lasekan, Akeredolu and a few others continued the march until the Nigeria independence in 1960 when a new group of artists from Zaria (mainly students) created a mild revolution in the arts,” the prominent Nigerian artist narrated.
Some of the students who made their remarks, said the arts exhibition was the compilation of all their art works done over the period, adding that they have also learnt that art is life and everything about life is art. The students made and showcased different art works like adire (tie and dye cloths), bags and shoes made with adire, paintings on canvass among other beautiful works.
“I learnt that we can do more with art and one does not need to hide his talent. Art has thought me respect and patience because it takes one with these virtues to excel in art. I learnt also that art promotes friendship, it portrays history, it helps integrate people and it also strengthens bonds among people,” one of the students, Jibola Youssuf, told THISDAY.
Another student, Obiagazie Henry, also said: “I learnt to appreciate art. Art is a vital element that shapes societies and family values. I will like to take a career in art. It was through our teachers and the inspiration we had that we could be able to do this. I love art and I will love to continue to showcase my talent in art and will also want to take a career in art.”