In this interview, Mr. Chidinma Omeke, a Fine and Applied Arts graduate of the University of Benin, believes that sticking to arts and creating a career is more than protecting and continuing a family business line, as it’s an expression of love and belief in nature. Our correspondent writes. Excerpts:
Tell us about your decision to build a career in arts
My father is an artist, I actually started been an artist from childhood, arts have become part of my life and I feel that if I am separated from arts am nothing. After school I discovered that I have a gift, and my works speak for itself from the way it captures people and the society. My decision to build a career in arts was to ensure that the talent in me was not wasted by going to search for a job. I decided to create a platform for myself, where I can be saying something to the world, I also want to document people and circumstances of my life. I want them to create a history that future generation can look at and get a helpful perspectives on life from.
From where do you draw inspiration for your work?
I believe in Nigeria, I believe in what we have, I believe in things not going to waste, that is why all my arts are done with raw charcoal, I also make some from firewoods, I burn the firewood and make the charcoal. I believe love is a strong part of our human existence, because without love we will be animals. In my works I tried to portray unity, I show it in feminism and in children who are deprived of love. There was this woman that saw one of my works in Lokoja, Kogi state, and when she insisted I should paint her son, though she had no money to pay for the exact cost, but she got some cash.
How would you assess the rate patronage of visual arts in Nigeria
Unfortunately, in this part of the world, people don’t appreciate the works of arts as they are been appreciated in other places, but still those that have the means and understand the value do. There are lots of people who are talented, governments and other stakeholders seem to be more interested in giving scholarship to students of medicine, laws and other professions, but those who are in pure arts are been neglected. I advocate that scholarship should also be extended to those in arts. China has become an economic reference point in the world, because they didn’t treat arts with levity as it is been done here. I have never done any work that has not been sold or appreciated and the least of my work goes for N150,000. Young entrepreneurs need to be encouraged, so that our economy can pick up like that of China and other big economies of the world”.