Acoterie of Nigerian contemporary artists, whose works address the environmental issues of our modern world, will be showing their works at The Ignatius House Art Exhibition. The exhibition, initiated by Rev. Fr. Ugo Nweke of the North West Africa region of Society of Jesus, opens from 11am on Saturday August 31 and closes on September 1 at St. Ignatius House, 6 L. Agusto Close, Surulere in Lagos.
The annual event has become a platform for drawing attention to pressing social issues through the instrumentality of art. This edition of the exhibition, titled Laudato Si: Care for Our Common Home, draws its inspiration from an encyclical published by Pope Francis. The Pontiff’s statement is essentially a call for positive action to stem the tide of a seeming global environmental apocalypse.
Individually, the participating artists have been contributing to the global environmental campaign. But, this exhibition has provides another opportunity for the artists to lend their voices once again to this important issue. Ayo Adewunmi, a lecturer at the Institute of Management and Technology, Enugu and founder of Art Is Everywhere-a waste to art initiative, not only addresses the ravages of consumerism on the physical environment with his photography, but he is also concerned about how humans are affected by their own actions, often as a result greed and lack of concern for others. Klaranze Okhide paints trees stripped of their leaves to draw attention to the catastrophic environmental challenges of her homeland in Niger Delta region, which is witnessing serious environmental challenges.
Ernest Nkwocha and Izuu Moneme respond to the theme of the exhibition by using wastes to create objects of beauty. While Nkwocha uses the discarded and ubiquitous car tires sourced from his neighbourhood to make forms of animals facing extinction due to ecological challenges, Moneme uses the equally plentiful empty beverage cans to create “paintings”. These two artists remind us that with creativity, beauty can be created from the ugliness of wastes. The paintings of Chike Emembo and Grace Ighabovta are not direct commentaries on environmental disaster. Instead, they point us to the pristine beauty of the earth, while directing our gaze to the natural beauty that we should aspire to achieve in order to find an equilibrium between nature and our activities on earth in a way that the earth can be sustained. Also important are the two student-participants, Obi Micheal of St. Francis College Idimu, and Ayoola Olugbenga, who recently graduated from Holy Child Secondary School, Lagos. Their presence in the show serves the purpose of sensitising young people regarding the future of the earth and the need to sustain the campaign into the future. As important as the value of its social commentary is on this major global concern, this exhibition would not have been complete without the voices of the younger generation. For this beauty of the earth that is being lost at an exponential rate, we are called upon to work together to love and cherish the world and make it a better place in much the same way that artists love their work.
––Enekwachi writes from Abuja