CREATIVE ARTS AND DESIGN AS MEANS OF COMMUNICATION
Nelson Obi Igboamazu
Department of Fine and Applied Arts, Federal Polytechnic, Oko, Anambra State, Nigeria
The wrong notion that only ‘transferred technology’ is capable of putting the map of a developing nation like Nigeria among the committee of developed nations is quite misleading and suggests inferiority. It makes a third world country like Nigeria appear actually insignificant when man’s technological achievement is discussed. This paper highlights the dimming conception of art as catalysts in nation building. Both primary and secondary sources of information were used, while the discriptive and philosophical methods of evaluation were used in analyzing the information gathered. At the end, it was observed that the bulk of what sustains Nigerian economy is her numerous cottage industries, of which art related industries dominate the list. This paper advances that creative art is a veritable tool in nation building in a developing nation such as Nigeria.
Keywords: Arts; technology; modernization; dependency; communication.
Throughout the modern world, creative arts and design have been employed for societal growth. Areas such as, painting, sculpture, cartoons and illustrations have been employed to play various technological and humanistic roles. Oloidi (2000) has written on the indispensability of arts to national development.
Art does not only constitute a major force in socio-political experiences of a nation but is also an integral part of commerce. Virtually all aspects of buying and selling or any other economic venture employ art in one form or the other in the area of communication. For example, there can be no magazine or newspapers without graphic artists. In fact virtually all corporate bodies in Nigeria depend on the complimentary services of artists and designers to achieve their goals. Media houses in particular, and most government parastatals require the services of artists to promote national values and social justice. Religious institutions also require their services to propagate the word of God and preach good morals. Okeke (1979) sums it up when he posits that th artist is very eager to make his own contribution towards the liberation of African humanity.
Art and design are also veritable tools for communication and mass mobilization. They could be panacea for re-directing our oil based economy. Nigeria’s heavy dependency on oil wealth has led to an almost abandonment of small scale indigenous industries and technologies, such as arts. Little did Nigerian’s economic policy makers realize that the nation’s quest for self reliance can be achieved through such indigenous technological approach and not through transfer of technology from western countries into Nigeria. In this way we can produce our own brand of society and technology as the Chinese and Indonesia.
The nature of this research calls for the adoption of theoretical perspectives to guide and direct the study. In view of this we find the theories of modernization and dependency quiet apposite.
Modernization theory, which emerged in the 1950’s – 1960’s as the dominant paradigm of economic and cultural change is based on theoretical standpoint of technological imbalance between nations. Modernization theory owes its intellectual origins to the works of Darwin, Durkheim and Weber, but was crystallized by Parson (1951)
Modernization theorists argue that technologically, under development is a universal characteristic of all human society at one time, and that a cultural evolution and convergence of all nations is possible if the less development approaches technology designed for them by the developed western countries. Some of these approaches include, adopting western technology in meeting problems of existence and exhibiting of world view associated with westernization.
It is apparent that modernization theory has its own short comings, and these spurred a rival school of thinkers to emerge, loosely labeled the Dependency theorists. The dependency theorists argue that modernization theory was aimed at legitimizing capitalist growth models as the only paths to modernization, while de-legitimizing non-capitalist models.
The major problem that stands in the way of African modernization is that the relationships of dependency employed during the age of colonization by the western powers were continued long after the official independence.
Creative arts and technology as agents of national development
Creative arts can be broadly divided into two: visual and performing arts. Performing arts comprises of theatre arts, music and other oral performances. Visual arts comprises of Fine and Applied Arts. Fine Art is an extension of the humanities; they contain aspects that have didactic, intellectual, humanistic, cultural aesthetic values, among others. This area consists of sculpture, painting, creative photography, art history, art education, museum studies among others.
The Applied Arts consists of areas that are mainly utilitarian and industrial in purpose. Their products are mass produced or meant for mass consumption. It includes areas such as textile, ceramics, fashion design, graphics and general design.
Among these aspects of art, the industrial design and Graphic communication appears to be the most sought after areas in our quest for nation building.
Many people are yet to know that all modern mechanical contrivances are designed by artists (Nwanna, 2009).
Today, motor vehicles are designed by industrial designers. Unfortunately, most of the achievements of creative artists and designers are credited to scientists and people seem to be ignorant that technology is art based and not science based (Oloidi:1990).
Art as a technological discipline has been seen as the creation or expression of what is beautiful especially in visual form, fine skill or aptitude in such expression. Indeed if the creative artists and designers do not design, there will be no products, instruments or amenities that make life more comfortable, Art as the spirit of development was verbalized by Okoye (2008).
Art provides the audience with visual illustrations that facilitate their understanding of their environment and world view as upheld by Okeke (1979).
Infact the absence of graphic illustration in any communication process is capable of confusing the audience who may require clarity on certain issues.
The Nigerian creative artists and designers have shown a deep sense of commitment and determination towards making Nigeria a self reliant nation. They try to achieve this by making use of available natural and human resources for maximum output. Art graduate presently start art studio and small scale textile industries on leaving school. These establishments equally provide good employment opportunities for a reasonable percentage of the population and discourage urban migration, since such art industries can be cited in rural areas, where insufficient infrastructure exists.
The paper recommends that Nigerian government should provide the necessary incentives and infrastructure for the full development of art and design industries. This will include, provision of soft loans, provision of electricity and roads. Creative artists and designers should also avail themselves the opportunity to appreciate the creative aspect of our traditional arts with a view to finding how best to make a healthy blend of modern technology so that we can produce our own brand of technology as the Chinese, Koreans, Indians and other industrialized peoples. Art is indeed our sure hope for national development.
Nwanna, C. (2002). “Teaching and Leaning of Art in Nigerian Tertiary Institutions”. Zaria; a conference paper presented during a National Conference of the Pan African Circle of Artists.
Okeke, U. (1979). Art in Development: A Nigerian Perspective, Minneapolis: Orion printing Inc.
Okoye, N. (2001). Some Basic Issues in Psychology, Awka: Eudition Publishers.
Oloidi, O. (1989). “Constrain on the growth and Development of Modern Nigerian Art in the Colonial Period” Nsukka: Nsukka Journal of Humanities No 5/6
--------- (1990). “Instructional Material in Nigerian Schools” Nsukka: Perspectives in Educational Research and National Development, vol. 2.
Parson, O. (1951). The Social System, London: Routyledge.