For the Sake of Peace, Femi Akande Preaches Art

Emmanuel Ndogo

Opeloyimika? That’s a Yoruba word that resonates with deep gratitude, a sentiment embodied by Femi Olajire Akande’s terracotta female figure. 

A close-up view of this figure reveals a near-topless form, with intricate textures, precise lines, and geometric forms adorning the lower half. The captivating visuals capture moments of reverence and gratitude, depicting the figure in various acts of devotion—kneeling humbly, joyfully dancing, or reaching towards the heavens in profound appreciation of the divine blessings bestowed. In this work by the US-based but Nigerian-born artist, the depth of spiritual connection and artistic expression meld unobtrusively.

“This is one of the core beliefs of the Christian faith,” he says. “A thankful heart receives more and more blessings from the Throne of the Grace of God. The three-dimensional art piece is not only aesthetically pleasing; it is akin to the experiences of the ancient cultures of African art. Philosophically, there is more to gain from God for the thankful-hearted.”

Akande captivates viewers with his idealised yet realistic and poetic visual art forms. His hybrid artworks, which leave a strong impression on society, artistically merge. His pieces reflect his thematic focus on moral and spiritual upliftment, which resonates with individuals who view them. As an ardent advocate of peacework art programmes, he believes that art has the transformative potential to create understanding and inclusivity. His numerous accolades and global exhibitions attest to the universal appeal of his message. He believes that “peace work” art initiatives can help nations transcend gaps and build a culture of peace and empathy. His imaginative ideas provide exciting opportunities for world harmony and collaboration.

Some of the visionary ways these impactful and inspiring ideas can come to fruition encompass a broad spectrum of creative initiatives and artistic endeavors. One such avenue involves putting together international art exhibitions that transcend borders and foster cultural exchange. This could entail curating exhibitions showcasing diverse artworks from a myriad of nations, serving as a platform to bolster cross-cultural understanding and appreciation.

Moreover, artistic collaborations stand out as a poignant means to craft unified narratives of peace, unity, and diversity. Akande posits that by pairing artists hailing from different corners of the globe, collaborative pieces can materialise, encapsulating profound messages of harmony and fostering a tapestry of creative dialogue and collaboration that transcends geographical boundaries.

“I plan to involve the community in this artistic process through art for peace education by developing art-based educational programmes that teach peace and tolerance, workshops, and public art installations,” he enthuses. “I equally plan to come up with peace-themed art, which will focus on creating peace art themes that address local issues and promote understanding.”

He envisions achieving this goal by delving into the realm of artistic expression through a myriad of mediums, such as music. For instance, his vision spans organising a peace-centred song competition, facilitating a songwriting contest for community members to pen melodies advocating peace, staging a dance event celebrating unity, curating visual art exhibitions that showcase peace-promoting creations, utilising theatre performances to address local conflicts, and screening series that advocate peace and foster understanding among different communities.

Adding to the sentiment, the beauty of public art installations in bustling city squares or serene parks cannot be overlooked. These creative visual representations act as a powerful testament to the community’s dedication to fostering harmony and cohesiveness among its residents. The vibrant swirls of street artwork, advocating peace and love, serve as a vivid testament to the community’s values. Moreover, the meticulously curated art exhibitions that aim to cultivate a sense of unity and tolerance offer a sanctuary of reflection amidst the chaos of modern life. Through the lens of storytelling and artistry, we illuminate tales of heroism and peace, inspiring others to join the noble pursuit. Online platforms have become a thriving digital canvas for showcasing art that embodies peaceful ideals, sparking conversations, and transforming societies from within. In this realm, art resonates as an everlasting echo of hope and understanding, whispering poignant narratives of unity and progress to all who care to listen.

Ndogo writes from Lagos 

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