ONYINYECHI UDEMEZUE, Abuja
THE Educational Services Department of National Gallery of Art (NGA), recently organized an art exhibition tagged Rainbow Art Children’s Art Expression, this is in a bid to identify raw talents among the younger generations of Nigerians.
With the theme, “Unlocking Creativity: Christmas Through the Eyes of a Child”, the exhibition aimed at stimulating the Nigerian child to express his or her feelings about the festive season of Christmas.
The event, which was initiated by the head, Educational Services department, Dr. Evelyn Otaigbe, came with lots of excitement for the children.
Over 45 primary and post primary schools within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) participated in the pre-event exhibition and had all their works featuring at the main programme.
In his remarks, Chairman, Governing Board, NGA, Barrister Hipo Onwuegbuke, urged the management to intensify efforts towards discovering new talents among the younger generations who will carry on with the vision and bring the dreams of the nation to fruition in the area of art development.
Onwuegbuke also tasked government on enabling environment for artists to thrive in their career in order to contribute their quota towards employment generation for the youths.
According to him, “This will be better achieved through empowerment programmes like this where the nation’s children are encouraged to discover their talents and develop them at an early age.
“On behalf of the NGA Board, I assure you that no stone will be left unturned to see that the mandate which has been vested on the National Gallery of Art to ensure that the full potentials of Nigeria’s visual art sub-sector is realised does not die in our time.
“I encourage all stakeholders to come forward with suggestions and contributions that will help us in this quest”, the chairman said.
On his part, the Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Chief Edem Duke, said creativity, whether from children or adults, has one common factor which is originality.
“Children with their unhindered imaginations and undaunted dreams still fresh can be said to possess this essence in an even greater measure. That we are here today to celebrate the creativity inherent in our children is both heart-warming and morale-boosting.
“Without any doubt, today’s child art is the assurance of tomorrow’s creative industry, employment and economic stability. The Gallery’s decision to encourage children to define and drive their own future is a pointer to the possibility of self-reliance and the near-indispensability of art and creativity in the overall sustainability of the culture and tourism industry.
“Our history has been distorted due to lack of documentation. This is the reason I am so delighted that the works on display today are properly documented in adherence to the NGA’s policy in the organisation of exhibitions. To this end, I commend the management team of the NGA for its noble efforts at repositioning the visual art sub-sector”, Duke said.
The Minister further congratulated all participating children whose works were on display at the event.
“It is my prayer that the embers of creativity placed in your hands will burn endlessly into a future laced with creative ingenuity and better artistry to boost the future creative industry”, he prayed.
Also speaking, Director General, NGA, Mr. Abdullahi Muku, noted that the event sought to engage the mind of the child in more ways than one.
He believed that children learn more through play and platforms provided by festivities would be great opportunities to interactively engage their minds with a reflection on lessons about the seasons.
In his words, “It is also an opportunity to teach civics, artistic expression and creativity through which to get the best of the child in terms of the essence of conflict resolutions, role playing, core essence of the arts and learning using artistic mediums.
“The festive occasions provide ample chances to bring back the good moments, joy, national pride and love for the nation to children. Every child needs to have early childhood memories that are filled with joy, laughter, happiness, self-appreciation, selflessness and more”, Muku said.
The D.G also disclosed that the Agency has programmes targeted at educating and transforming the people through the medium of arts.
“We seek partnerships from corporate bodies who wish to engage the minds of women, children and adults through arts as a means to empower them and provide some sort of entrepreneurship through arts”.
Part of the day’s event include cultural performances by the Living Spring Private School, Karu, the Kwaghir Tiv theatre and the students of Government Secondary School, Idu, Abuja.
The folk tale segment reminded audience of the popular children’s television series, Tales by Moonlight as the story teller engaged the children in music and other activities including the story of Christmas.
The highlight of the event was the unveiling of children’s artworks by the Chairman, NGA governing board, Barrister Hipo Onwueguke flanked by the Director General, NGA, Alhaji Abdullahi Muku and other directors in the parastatals.
Their featured artworks showed creative efforts that were both original and heart-warming as each child had painstakingly expressed their feelings about the festive season of Christmas as celebrated in Nigeria.
While the works were creatively unique, they exhibited elements of similarity in the understanding of Christmas by the young ones. To them, Christmas is only synonymous with gifts, fun and feasting.
At the end of the exhibition, every child went home with a gift from the organisers while the artworks were collected for documentation by the parastatals.
Director, Educational Services, organiser of the programme, Dr. Evelyn Otaigbe, revealed that the creative activities of the event would be used as a platform to teach the children the ideals of nationhood, advocacy, conflict resolution and democracy.
Tagging the event the Rainbow Art was deliberate as according to Dr. Otaigbe, beyond its primary colours the rainbow, like a child has a lot of creative properties which can only be uncovered through precise and definitive exploration.
In cognisance of this fact, seven different creative stations representing the seven colours of the rainbow were set up with the sole purpose of helping the children unlock their innate creative talents. The stations were hat-making, bead-making, puppetry, cartoon characters, Gele (head-scarf) tying, face painting and folk tale session.