How artist-scholars showed economic value of creativity


Areas of art such as painting, printing and graphics formed the content of a group exhibition titled Visual arts, Communication and Creativity at School of Art, Design and Printing (SADP), Yaba College of Technology, Lagos.

Ayoola Sodade, Abdulrasheed Afolabi, Hakeem Adeyemo, Olubunmi Adetayo, Emma Idiong, Tajudeen, Adeyoola, Taiwo Akinwande and Taiwo Sorunke, whose works made the content of the exhibition, stressed the repository character of the academia in art.

And for the SADP, particularly, the exhibition appeared like a step towards reaffirming the school’s leading position in research.

The artists, in a joint statement, noted that as a core part of the creative industry, visual art is an embodiment of fields that provide the everyday needs of Nigerians. They cited graphic art as an example of an aspect of visual arts that deals with production of designs for the purpose of visual communication.

“The reproduction of graphics – printing – is another vital aspect of visual arts. Together, graphic design and printing deal with the creation and production of logos, posters, handbills, catalogues, books, billboards, banners and myriads of other print media products – all for the purpose of communication.”

Also mentioned is textile and fashion design. “With the drive to elevate tourism as one of the alternative income earning strategies for the nation, the textile and fashion design industry definitely has a crucial role to play. Since clothing is an essential human need, the demand for fabrics and attires is certainly a never-ending one. Generally, in the Nigerian economy today, graphic design, printing, photography, painting, sculpture, textile and fashion design, ceramics and other aspects of the creative industry, are all avenues for self-employment. Students can be trained to be self-reliant and become employers of labour.”

The artists argued that the creative industry is vital to achieving economic growth. “Achieving self-reliance amongst the teeming unemployed population in Nigeria is an issue at the front burner. Without doubt, well-trained artists are more likely to be independent of government and private sector jobs – which, of course, are not readily available. Rather than run after these elusive jobs, well trained visual artists have the capability of contributing to national development through entrepreneurship. By empowering the teeming unemployed youth in Nigeria with visual arts skills, they can be assured of becoming creative and productive citizens who can make a living for themselves.”

The experimental nature of the visual art discipline, the artists explained helps visual artists break new grounds by generating employment opportunities, thus promoting self-reliance in the Nigerian economy. They added that at a time when poverty reduction is demanding a significant attention from the government, visual arts provides a viable option if properly applied and harnessed to solving the challenge of diversifying the nation’s economy.

Specifically speaking on a theme Research and Development: Driver of Visual Arts Education the artists stressed how research and development are the lubricant that oils the wheels of visual art education and training. “With continuous research and development, visual arts educators are imbued with innovative ideas to stay ahead of the learning curve. According to Tina Illoekwe of the Department of Fine and Applied Arts, Federal College of Education, Okene, the quality of visual arts educator has a large bearing on students’ interests in studying the subject. A 2005 report by the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit research organization, entitled “A Portrait of the Visual Arts: Meeting the Challenges of a New Era” examines the visual arts in the context of the broader arts environment, especially, the challenges of visual art practice in a digital age.

According to the report, the visual art is a “system that responds to internal and external forces in the broader society and thus reflects such trends as growing pluralism in the artistic styles, the new technologies, and changing public expectations about the role of the visual arts in society’.

As artists and scholars, the exhibitors noted that with the above dynamics, the onus falls on visual art educators to continually be at the top of their practice. They must continue to research, experiment and bring the products of their experiences to the public through conferences, workshops, exhibitions and community development projects. This will improve their knowledge and skills so that they can teach students better – students who will conquer the world as innovative creators.”

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