“Know what you are doing, and people would seek you where ever you may be”-Dr. Ngumah H.C
As the Federal Government is emphasizing on the issue of entrepreneurship as a solution to curbing the web of joblessness in our present day Nigeria, art and other vocational courses are finally towards the road of appreciation.
The FG is trying to make it a General Course (GS or GST), that is ‘Entrepreneurship’ to equip every Nigerian student mostly those at the tertiary level with the proper skills and knowledge to harness their inner potential in order to be self reliant individuals. This is in line with the Nigeria educational goals as well as Millennium Development Goals. The ancient Nigeria of “Certificate alone” is fading and had proved unsuccessful in breeding good academic scholars and scientific geniuses. This time the bell chimes of “show me what you can do, and I would pay for your services”. The much emphasis on certificate had left many youths half dead, because they could not fit in any where, or there was no job created by the government to give them another treasured certificate viz Appointment letter.
Consequently, so many parents, especially those with educated and enlightened mind-set advise their children to go for the Fine and Applied Art, the Home Economics/Management, Agriculture and Music Over the centuries, mostly after the 15th, 16th and 17th Century Renaissance, the decrease in the appreciation of these areas of life became so visibly loud in most developed and 3rd world countries.
This problem of appreciation is mostly as a result of misunderstanding, ignorance and proper enlightment. This is because, the society degrades the effort of those in this field even after patronizing them. Lets talk about Art.
The problem of appreciation in Art, like other areas is caused by one major enemy “ignorance” coupled with other factors which range from poor societal enlightenment, to high regards for the so called professionals courses and yet there are many youths roaming the streets with certificate of such courses.
Dr. Ngumah H .C. (HOD Fine and Applied Art, Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education) speaking to his students on a one day seminar presentation, organised by the Department of Fine and Applied Art of Alvan Community for their final year students held on the 22nd of April 2013 said “we are in a society that appreciates titles and honours more than what the person with the so called titles can offer”. But a student expressed concern for the degradation they receive from the public and how they are looked down when they say they are artists. The student inquired why the artist doesn’t attach his profession to his name as you would have others do like “Barrister… Dr… Architect” before there names. Dr. Ngumah who is now heading the dept twice said the titles not count, that what counts is what you can do. He gave an example with ‘Doctors Ethics’ who are advised not to put bulky sign post and bill boards of their private hospitals, but rather should be good in handling tough cases, and thus, people would seek them out where ever they may be. In his words, “I do not see the issue of title as a problem to appreciation of Art in the society, rather I see ignorance of what art really is as one”.
Speaking on the issue of artist, who may want to be referred with their area of specialization eg ‘sculptor’ ‘painter’ etc, Dr. Ngumah said they should rather get their Doctorate and be referred as Dr. Adding to this, Mr. Chizor Egeonu, a senior lecturer in the department who is a painter, Art Historian and critic said “it is better for you to introduce yourself, as after which you add the artist, because restricting yourself to one specialization in the field when you as an artist can have three specializations cannot truly tell who you are and what you can do, but the titles mean nothing. People appreciate you by your good works and not otherwise”.
The question still becomes, what is art? Who is this artist and why is he not appreciated, and why is he an entrepreneur? So many have seen created art-works and yet do not understand what art is.
However, art is an expression of our human emotion, thoughts, desires, fears, reflexes and reflections, hope, appetite, inner feelings, confusions, essence as well as existence. Even as we practise art, or in writing, we cannot capture these actions in perfection, we cannot say what art really is in its own state or as it would satisfy our artistic curiosity and taste. Many restrict it to the doing itself, mostly on the visual perspective. Thus, to them, action speaks louder than voice. To some, it is ‘drawing and painting, others singing and dancing, others refuse to give their opinion ‘while others who are tired of definition and counter definitions resort to the popular phrase of art is life’. To some extent they are right, because they use life to represent all areas of human endeavour in which Art is inherent including the sciences. Yet, what about death? Question which our mind keeps asking; is their an afterlife? The idea of God?. Even as philosophical as they are, arts in some way help to answer some of these questions either by visual depiction or reflected documentation.
Writing about art as a way of describing life, Peter Selz in his “ART IN OUR TIMES, a PICTORIAL HISTORY 1890-1980” published in 1981 wrote-“the 1890’s, perhaps more than any other period, were immersed in the problem of being of life and death… typical of his (Arnold Bocklin) late work is the ‘PLAGUE, a painting of death and annihilation… In England, George Fredrick Watts continued the academic tradition in rather sentimental allegories such as ‘LOVE AND LIFE’ …at the same time, however Paul Gauguin dealt very differently with the meaning of life in his master piece-WHERE DO WE COME FROM? WHAT ARE WE? WHERE DO WE GO”. In his words, these artists were using their works to answer some questions about life and death.
Some have continued to see art as just drawing and painting. This is a very great misconception and should be eradicated from the minds of people in which this sweeping ideology dwell. The idea is not only a fable, but belittles the artist and his efforts to bring to limelight the powerful hand and artistic vision of God in nature. Does God know who the artist is? Why can’t there be a perfect description or definition of what art is? We can only define it as we understand, but before I define art, bear this in mind “the works of nature are the works of God, nature is art, God is an artist, creation is his creative manifestations”
TO BE CONTINUED.
Hillary Uzomba, 08099257814 Follow via