Sunday 14 August 2016

On Canvas, 'Africa 4 Her' Projects Value, Empowerment

 Faces of art as therapy, skill acquisition and community development as well as civic responsibility take the space when about 60 female artists across young and adult ages showcase their works.

Founder of Tender Arts Nigeria Kunle Adewale with participants at #Africa 4 Her

Collapsing gender barrier and addressing female participation deficit in visual arts, is the fulcrum on which the art exhibition is rested, organisers, Tender Arts Nigeria stated ahead of the opening. With three years experience in promoting creativity at the grassroots level, Tender Arts Nigeria, led by artist and educationist, Kunle Adewale appears to have found a wider scope with #Africa 4 Her, being the theme of the exhibition, which holds from Saturday 20- Monday 22, 2016 at Terra Kulture, Victoria Island.
   "#Africa 4 Her is about bridging the gender gap; breaking down barriers that affect women in visual arts," Adewale told select guests during a preview at Terra Kulture. "The project is aimed at making girls better individuals and prepare them for entrepreneurship." The project, which Adewale said was eight weeks old involved 100 girls and women from as little as six to 35 years old.

  As much as the issues of girl child empowerment and gender imbalance have become a common prey in not-for-profit ventures, particularly in developing countries like Nigeria, there seems to be an ongoing silent proliferation, particularly when most of them are repetitive in focus. For #Africa 4 Her, the themes in some of the paintings seen during preview suggest that the project is also aimed at instilling the right value into young children apart from art skill and entrepreneurship.
  Every child, for example, grow up with certain role models, some of whom shape his or her upbringing and perhaps the future too. For #Africa 4 Her, the participants, according to Adewale were guided on examples of who a role model should be for young girls. Specifically, the participants were told to avoid some celebrities whose public profiles represent immoralities, Adewale disclosed.    

"Nudity" which some celebrities are known for, he said, was avoided; it's not African value." 
  Some of the works include portraits of celebrities such as American TV talk show star, Oprah Winfrey; wife of U.S president, Michelle Obama, among others. Beyond the exhibition of the artists' works, a mentorship programme is also ahead. Opportunity to show their works yearly under the #Africa 4 Her show is available for "25 shortlisted artists for mentoring."
Portrait of Oprah Winfrey by Dele Lawal
Medium: Mixed Media On canvas.
Uche Valerie and Sylvia Uzzorh are among the exhibiting artists. The #Africa 4 Her workshop "gave me opportunity to meet creative people of different age groups that expanded my view of art," Valerie, a trained artist at Yaba College of Technology, Lagos, recalled. A radiographer, and self-taught artist, Uzzorh disclosed that  "art has been therapeutic for me."
  Excerpt from Adewale's bio: Adewale has impacted over 5000 beneficiaries through his art programs over a period of three years. He has facilitated Therapeutic Art Projects for Children and Young Adults in Nigeria, among them include Children Living with Cancer Foundation, Sickle Cell Foundation Nigeria, and Children with Down syndrome Foundation.

 Through his Tender Arts Nigeria foundation, Adewale has made numerous impacts across Nigeria and Africa. He pioneered Arts in Medicine Africa and the First Art Therapy Center in West Africa. Through Arts in Medicine program in Nigeria, Kunle helped and is still helping people living with Sickle Cell anemia in Nigeria to get their minds off pain and feelings of being sick. Through Arts he takes their mind off depression and anxiety, strengthens their personal, social identity so they can have a sense of fulfillment and hope for the future. Over 150 persons living chronic illness have been recorded to have benefited from his Art Therapy Program at Sickle Cell Foundation Nigeria. 

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