Art needs aggressive awareness, says Gerald Chukwuma, an artist

Both the Federal and state governments should be involved in creating awareness geared toward the development of the arts sector at the grassroots.


An artist, Gerald Chukwuma, gave the suggestion on Friday in Lagos during an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).


Chukwuma said that such a support from the three tiers of government was necessary as it had been doing to the other sectors of the economy.


He also said there was the need for all the states in the federation to document their histories through art.


“Art immortalises ideas and gives people reasons to think and expand their horizons,” the artist said.


Chukwuma was reacting to the lack of artists in the rural areas of the country as a means to better the standard of living of youths.


He said that creating such awareness at the grass roots would encourage many youths to be self-reliant.


He said that over the years, such awareness had been concentrated on the elite in the urban areas to the disadvantage of the rural dwellers.


“Instead of the elite teaching those at the grassroots the importance of investing in art, they hide it.


“Some will, instead of talking about art, give them food to eat, so that they will not know or listen to its value.


“It is imperative to tell the people at the grassroots not only to admire, buy and hang art works on their walls.


“They must also tell the vital stories relating to their existence as a people through art works,’’ she said.


Chukwuma said that the story of a particular place could be documented through the art works in galleries and libraries.


“It can earn someone millions of naira in the near future; it is a collateral also for those who know the value,” Chukwuma said.


According to him, people at the grassroots should know that art is not only for appreciation.


They are about people’s traditions, culture, peace, togetherness and others, he said.


Chukwuma also said that artists could start a revolution with their art works on behalf of the public who were afraid to talk to government directly.


He said that there was a time in the past in the country that artists passed several messages across to the government on the plights of the citizens through their works of arts.


He said that the government understood the messages and acted positively.


NAN reports that Chukwuma who specialises in painting, sculpture and designing emerged as one of the top winners of the National Arts Competition in 2008 and 2012.


The University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) where he graduated commissioned him to produce two monumental pieces for its library and the Vice-Chancellor’s complex.


He had also participated in no less than 20 exhibitions in Nigeria, Cameroon, France, Denmark, Holland and the U.S.


Some of his works are: “Standing Ovation”; “Peoples Paradise”; “Essentials”; “The Contemporaries”; “Today in History”; “Highlife 11?;  and ” Music Lessons”.

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