Saturday 16 March 2013

Breaking Boundaries to mentor

CHIKA Aneke’s Breaking Boundaries, which started five years ago as an exhibition series, has now become a mentoring programme for young artists in Lagos.

This much was discovered at the six-week training tagged A life-transforming Art Workshop on Mixed Media and Wood Etching for young, art enthusiasts of Grange International School, Ikeja, organised by him.

In 2008, Aneke had announced his coming in the show Breaking Boundaries I, an exhibition of paintings, prints and installations, which held at Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos.
From Chika Aneke's Breaking Boundaries Series
He returned for the second series in 2010, with Breaking Boundaries – Welcome to Motherland Africa (Episode 2) as the title of salon show held at the Lagos residence of Ambassador Dew Tuan-Wleh Mayson, the Liberian envoy to Nigeria. Aneke later took his Breaking Boundaries mission to the US as one of 20 artists selected from 21 countries across the globe.

He was Nigeria’s art ambassador in the US tour, themed International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), a professional exchange programme of the US Department of State, which covered 13 states of America.
  It’s on the strength of this art ‘ambassadorial status’ that he proposed the workshop to Grange School as a ‘Phenomenal Artist –In –Residency Programme’.

INSIDE Grange’s art studio, participating students were grossly engaged in a manner, which Aneke described as far beyond what the participants were exposed to in their regular art classes. He disclosed that during the early stages of the workshop, the young artists had it tough, particularly in draughtsmanship.

“It was important to put the students through non-stop drawing of circle section to make their wrists flexible in draughtsmanship,” he said.

Several weeks after, they became more relaxed in the workshop. “Now, they are enjoying it, saying the experience is better than it sounds. In fact, more students wants to subscribe to the workshop, but the facilities can’t take more,” he quipped. And it’s not just art students’ thing. “The workshop is opened to all, even science students,” Aneke said.

And more curious, some of the works seen during the visit showed a running idea, which suggests a ‘jumping the gun syndrome’ usually associated with most workshops on creativity. “Not at all,” Aneke argued. Each student, he explained, “went through the process, filled more than two sketch pads book while experimenting with all sorts of mixed media before arriving at a final concept.”

SINCE his Breaking Boundaries project appears to have taken art out of the formal classrooms curriculum, will there not be a distortion of tutorial progression? An understanding and cooperation, he said exists between him and the art teachers of Grange — Mrs. Bolaji Olasoji, Mr. Olumide Onasoji and Mr. Ofore Okiemute. And to expose the participants to formal presentation of art, works produced by students are scheduled for a group art exhibition to be titled Thinking Outside the Box, at Didi Museum, on April 12.
Chika Aneke during the mentoring project with Grange School, Ikeja, Lagos.
After Grange, the mentoring continues, Aneke assured. “I hope to extend Breaking Boundaries mentorship to other schools.”
He says the project “is for a distinguished class of people in schools and other organisations both in Nigeria and overseas.”

As a mixed media artist of Uli – Igbo native art and design extraction — Aneke sees his art as “adventure into the magical world of unending exploration of virgin techniques leading to the discovery of new creative vocabularies; new artistic idioms.”

Aneke, a graduate of Fine and Applied Arts, University of Nigeria, Nsukka was the recipient of Ford Foundation Artists’ Prize in 2006.

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