CREATIVE ARTS LINKAGES, HISTORIOGRAPHY: MEANS TO GLOBAL AESTHETICS APPRECIATION AND NIGERIAN NATION BUILDING
Eze Ngene and J.C. Ogu
Department of Fine & Applied Arts,Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education,Owerri,
This paper surveys linkages and historiography in creative arts and globalization. The appreciation and possession of other nations’ creative art objects/artifacts links different cultures and nations together as they share common aesthetic experiences, history and knowledge which was unique to a particular nation. This paper discussed the position of Nigerian images/icons at the globe history. It explains that since its discovery Nigeria artifacts such as the Nok Terracotta, Benin Art, Igboukwu culture have continued to be historical objects which attract attentions which linked nations to Nigeria. Some important literatures were reviewed and surveys conducted using simple opinion polls. The results showed that creative arts objects have linked nations who are interested in other nations’ artifacts. In the globe these works are historically discussed as great objects of high aesthetics and culture.
Keywords: Arts, historiography, linkages, development
Creative arts are a universal endeavour, and experience which is practice, appreciated and utilized by many nations for nation building. Its practice and appreciation cut across national boundaries. Some works of creative arts produced by different nations are appreciated. The aesthetic experience, values are shared globally in utility, politics, economic, religious purposes, and research studies.
According to Sieber (1972), each culture evolves its own distinctive fashion that serves to distinguish it from other group. Inspite of the difference in culture, experience and artistic styles, creative arts links people of different nations together. It creates great histories of the creative arts objects and more importantly contributes economically and politically to nation building.
Creative arts works produced by different artists from various cultural background, do not only project the artists and their nations to limelight but serve as linkage and historiography objects which are valued and appreciated globally by many people and nations. This aids nation building. According to Rensewe (2007) he says that “they attended up to six creative art exhibitions abroad. The aim was to promote and sell Nigerian image abroad”. This is an effort aimed at linking Nigeria with other nations so that they will be informed of the Nigerian creative arts histories and the development of tourism in nation building.
Creative arts works are produced in great numbers inspite of political, economic difficulties, and religious crises. Some of the creative artists free themselves from tribalism, ethnicism national cultures and regional tendencies by choosing concepts that are foreign to their culture in order to express themselves. Through creative arts they thereby by link themselves to other cultures, artistic styles/technique and histories which are foreign. They may have superior artistic forms and styles expressed in creative abundance or restraint because of cultural practices, religion and politics. The liberation of artists from their environment which link them to other cultures, ideas, materials have encouraged the making of creative arts works, that have immensely contributed to nation building, because of the aesthetic value and histories (associated to some of the creative arts works in the globe).
The skills/techniques used by creative artists to produce works may be similar. Variances many occur in artistic styles which are unique attribute of the artists because of their different cultural background and life experiences.
People of different nations (inspite of their culture and religion) appreciate creative art works which were produced by artists and craftsmen. Some of the works were produced in the past and present. The creative art objects contribute to nation building of the nations where they were made at one time or the other. The information about creative arts works made over the millennia and their various functions to nation building have become possible because of globalization and information technology (ICT) which encourage sharing of information, experiences, techniques and technological products.
The most creative art work, sign, and symbol which is very popular and appreciated in the globe because of its role in nation building of the primitive society is the early men’s cave paintings. The works are links to many nations, cultures and people who appreciate the art objects and their histories as they marvel at the creative ability of the early men.
The African artworks and crafts were artifact which in the globe today aesthetically and economically attracts interest which helped to develop the continent. The forms, style, cultural background, and histories associated with the work linked African to European artists, historians, ethnographers and archeologists who are interested in studying their artistic forms apart from trade.
The role the African masks and their cubic forms played in transforming the European classical art can not be overemphasized. The African masks which were used for religions and social purposes pioneered the European art. Picasso and other artists preferred it to artistic expression of classical and Renaissance art as postulated by Eze (2010).
The usefulness of African arts aesthetics and values shared by many people and nations contributed to the linkages which, tell the histories of the various African cultures and nation building. Smeets (1975) believes that our nation curtain material are the only field in which the suggestive primitive powerful Asmatic art of New Guinea, for example, finds an echo.
The interests of European artists and traders in African art (masks) and some other creative arts/crafts from Africa in the 18th/19th Century marked the beginning of creative arts linkages and interest in the creative arts historiography of objects.
The content, unique organic forms and symbols which were features of the African art (masks) were extensively explored by artists in the globe. The works are well appreciated. The African arts (masks) have a global art history contributing to the various world museums that are in possession of them for nation building. The African masks are globally appreciated because of their beauty and they were the basics for artistic development in abstractism in modem art in the globe.
The Nigerian/African creative art productions and objects have continued to enrich the global history and knowledge of the society about how the ancestors lived in the past and present, works, and entertained themselves creatively. Economically they earned the nation and continent wealth for nation building and recognition to the artists. Since some of the works are highly appreciated in the globe/and nations, they develop the esthetic behaviour of the people.
Art, creativity, aesthetics, development and nation building.
Globally the overall effects of creative arts on the beholder are spectacular. A nation can not have overall development without creative art and artists. Every nation which has creative art objects have artists that produced them. The artists possess individual artistic style and varied favourite subject matters that are based on the feeling, social interactions, concepts and experiences of the artists. It is because of these factors that cause creative art works to look differently from other. They are interpreted differently by the beholders either objectively or subjectively.
The people frequently explain creative art works based on interest, concept, technique, processes of production and the role they play in the society. Some art historians, art educators and philosophers have defined creative art based on element, attitude, form, expression symbol, truth and communication. The various interpretations and definitions given to creative arts have guided aesthetic development of people and contributed to nation building.
The implication is that apart from economic purpose, creative art has continued over the millennia to produce art objects with traditional modem synthetic materials which help to develop the nation, express feelings, satisfy aesthetic purposes and link nations and civilization because their objects have become historiography facts.
Productions of creative art works had always provided economic enhancements such as employment, and wealth to the artists. It also brings fame to the artists and nation where the works are produced.
In Nigeria today many of her creative art works are well known and recognized in the globe as they contribute meaningfully to national and international developments.
The global examples of some creative art works with high historiography that are highly appreciated and which have contributed to nation building of the various countries are; the statue of Liberty in USA, Eiffel Tower in France, Egyptian statues, Cistern Chapel paintings and Sculptures at St Peters Basilica in Rome, Nok Culture, and Benin Bronzes of Nigeria. The works were great historical creative art works of great aesthetic value. These works have contributed to the nation building of the various centuries. They have stirred developments, aesthetic awareness and economic earnings of the nations through the attraction of tourists and scholars. Creative art work portrays the true activities, endeavour, sufferings, pleasures and objects that were appreciated as virtues of the artists, culture and the nation from where they originated.
FESTAC: a linkage and historiography events in Nigeria
Periodically, some creative art works are exhibited by nations who are in possession of them. This is done in order to showcase the artists and their creative art object, the concept and culture that inspired their productions. This no doubt links many nations and informs the society about the creative art objects.
The Nigeria national gallery of art, Nigerian society of artists and the national commissions of museums and monuments are organizations involved in the exhibition and preservation of Nigeria creative art works. Summarily; the gallery collects, documents, preserves and exhibits, contemporary Nigerian art works. These functions are similar to those of the National commission for museums and monuments as summarized by Nwajie (2006).
Festival for Arts and culture (FESTAC) was organized by Nigeria in 1977. The global implications were to link African nations and the entire nations of the globe together. The main aim no doubt was for nation building of Nigeria and to inform people of different nations about the rich cultural heritage of the nation. It was also an endeavour geared towards linking Nigerian aesthetics with other nations for nation building
The FESTAC mask symbol is an art object with high aesthetic value which was used as an identity of the festival. The possession and ownership of the TESTAC symbol was brought into historical focus because of the festival, this was because the FESTAC symbol was one of the Benin bronzes which were stolen during the Benin punitive expendition of 1897 which till date had remained in the British Museums as the nations artifact till when Nigeria wanted it to be returned for the purpose of the festival. The FESTAC mask has an outstanding history which has linked both Nigeria and Britain together.
Though that the mask was not loaned to Nigeria the creative arts objects and activities exhibited at FESTAC festival attracted art lovers, tourists, artists, politicians, critics, and economists (art collectors) from the international art markets. The FESTAC effectively linked the nations of Africa and European nations and told the histories of African cultures and creative expressions which aided nations building of the various nations.
Art forum -a linkage of artists and nation building
Art is the projector of any nation’s culture and civilized values. Creative art productions, experience, and object enrich aesthetic appreciation and develop art awareness among people who appreciate the art object and the artists that produced them. Art develops man’s senses of beauty. It trains one to appreciate the importance of harmony and beauty in both objects and society as stated by (Anulobi 2010). The artists gather together to discuss art during art conferences, seminars, and exhibitions. Such bodies and organizations include the Nigeria society of artists (SNA), Alvan Society of artists (ASA), Ona art movement. They exchange ideas on art styles, technique and relevant materials being explored in the globe including nation building and art linkages.
Oshogbo art pioneered by Sussane Wenger at Oshogbo shrine was an example of such explorations/forum that have solved creative art exploration. The result was the making of artists such as; Jimoh Buraimoh and Twins Seven Seven and many others who are united in a common creative art exploration. Today Oshogbo arts of Nigeria the artists and creative art objects are highly appreciated in the globe.
Uche Okeke’s artistic style “Uli’ is well recognized and appreciated as a unique artistic style worthy to be emulated. The style is widely discussed by national and international scholars in Nigeria and abroad. The Uli art style is a link between people of different nations.
The histories and styles of the two art explorations Oshogbo and Uli art styles have ever been associated to artistic development and nation building in Nigeria. The two creative art styles have developed many artists and enhanced aesthetic appreciation and linkage in the globe.
Artist residency and exchange- a linkage programme
The artists’ residency/exchanges programme is a linking activity which has advanced creative art globalization and nation building. It offers opportunities to foreign artists, organizations, galleries and museums for creative and exhibition of creative art works. The artists’ residency specifically offers opportunities to artists to travel to other nations where they practice creative arts using their own styles, concept and materials obtained from the host nation.
The artists for residency are chosen based on their unique styles, concepts, reputations and the number of exhibitions made in their nations. When chosen they practice within a specific period ranging from four to six months. At the end of the period of residency the artists’ creative works are assembled, assessed and exhibited to the public in the host nation.
Artists’ residency/exchange programme exposes artists and their artistic style/works to the outside world. It sells the artist styles, and art works to the international art market where collectors are likely to collect the works because some galleries are ever willing to criticize and probably purchase the genuine and rare art works. Galleries operate openly; artists traveled and kept in touch with idea from abroad asserted by Meyer, Wright and Hall (1990)
Geoffry Nwogu, G.O. Uka and host of other Nigerian artists had art residency at one time or the other in some European countries. The international ceramics competition at Mino, Japan was an event organized to encourage ceramics industries, and the enhancement of culture through global exchange of ceramics design and culture. The first festival was held in 1986 and it met the approved ICSID (international council of societies of industrial Design. In Nigeria, Ceramic Association of Nigeria (Ceran) and Craft Potters Association of Nigeria (CPAN) are also contributing to linking potters and artist in the globe.
Tullie House museum and Art Grallery in Carlisle, Ivwell way sculpture Trail and Glasgow school of Art are organizations that have encouraged artist residency and exchange; and they have linked many artists of different nations. In Nigeria artists’ residency/exchange programme is not yet very well established and encouraged since many organizations seem to lack interest in its practice. The National galleries of Art in Nigeria, National Commission for museums and monument and some Nigeria tertiary institutions allow the arts students to take part in the industrial training (IT) programme. The practice is a linkage programme which has helped educational development in nation building.
Grants by national Art councils of some nations and Common wealth offices, before the economic melt down in Europe have encouraged art explorations and productions in many nations of world. Grants/funding have aided greatly in creative arts linkages of artists. However the grants/funding are becoming scarce to obtained.
The impact of nigerian images/icons in the globe and nation building
Since the 18th century the Nigeria images such as; ivory, mask, Brass and bronzes were sort for in European international art Markets. Many work classed museums in the globe are in possession of Nigeria creative art works. European and American museums have in their possession, one form of Nigeria creative arts or the other in their custody. Some of these creative art works were either acquired through formal means of trade transactions or stolen and looted during the punitive reprisal of some Nigerian kingdoms as in Benin. According to Uche, Okonkwo & Omon (2006), “Art trafficking in Nigeria dates back to the period of European contacts with people of the country. The trend could be contemporaneous with contacts of the Portuguese in the areas of Calabar and Benin Kingdom!” The creative art works which were acquired contributed immensely to nation building of the then Nigerian society economically, politically and religiously.
The identities of the artists that produced many of these Nigerian art works/crafts were unknown because of lack of formal documentations when then were purchased or looted. The works are now identified by the host nations that acquired them, though references are always made to their original nation of production. They were exhibited at the international museums abroad, where they contribute to nation building as the country of origins maintained.
The acquired creative art works permanently belong to her. They exhibit them in their museum as art objects of great appreciation under their custody and proprietorship. In Nigeria creative art images/icons exhibited at the National commissions for museums and monuments, the National Galleries of Arts, state art councils contribute to nation building as they are well appreciated and advertised globally.
Nok culture, Ife art, Benin bronzes, Igboukwu bronze potteries, Igbo Mbari, Bida beads/brassworks, the Yoruba Adire Dyeing, Bida and Kano Potteeries are some of the Works that have attracted global attention and appreciation They have attracted tourists from many nations and scholars who come to appreciate and to study the creative art works.
The traditional creative art works produced by traditional craftsmen helped in the national popularity because of their unique, symbolic forms, aesthetic value and relevance. Their aesthetic values attracted people from other nations which have increased the economic revenue of the nation for nation building. According to Fag (1974), “when the contributions of all other African countries are added together, they indeed illumine certain by ways of artistic history, but in Nigeria alone we can discern the mainstream of artistic development through the millennia and more.”
The economic and aesthetic value of Nigerian images/Icons has placed Nigeria as a country with long creative art linkages, and histories. This made the nation to be well recognized as a nation with rich cultural objects.
Contemporary Nigerian art and nation building
The contemporary Nigerian art and creative development of forms since its introduction in the early 1920’s and 1927 by the father of Nigeria contemporary arts Aina Onpbolu (1882-1963) and K.C. Murray have contributed to nation building since the pre-and post independence.
Many Nigerian artists trained by the pioneer contemporary artists and educationists, those from Nigerian college of Arts science and Technology in the 1950’s and early 1960’s were adequately enhanced with creative art skills to effectively contribute to nation building through their paintings, sculptures, designs and writings.
Later Ben Enwonwn’s (1921-1994) paintings/sculptures were widely exhibited in London, Paris and USA. His works were linkage of Nigeria, Africa, to European nations. In nation building he erected in many public places sculptures of high aesthetics. Some of the works are “Bronze Statue of Queen Elizabeth II “Anyanwu” at the national Museum. Onikan Lagos, and “Sango”, Mounted in front of PHCN Lagos marina. Lagos.
Bruce P.O. Onobraklpeys who is known for his prints, Uche Okeke’s “Ulism” J.A. Akeredolu (1916-1983) who was known for his torn carving Akinola Lasekan (1916-1972), and host of other creative artists contributed immensely to nation building of Nigeria during independence.
In the 20th/21st century many contemporary artists are working hard to produce creative art works which are exhibited to create aesthetic awareness and which link people and Nigerian together. Their works aid in nation buildings.
Jerry Buharis paintings, Jacob Jaris conflakes Mosaic like paintings, Ozioma Onuzulike’s ceramics and Toni Okpe’s sculptures are works which project and build the nation. Since some of their works are globally exhibited and appreciated.
Many Nigerian creative art writers in no small measures link Nigerian creative artists and their works to people of the globe. They inform people on creative acts style, concept, cultural inspiration and aesthetic meaning of some of the creative arts works.
The Nigerian contemporary art and creative development of creative art forms have contributed in art linkages, creating creative arts historiography, developing aestheticism and nation building.
The Nigerian creative arts have produced art works that are of global importance because of their styles, concepts, symbolism and high aesthetic values. The works serve as historiography object which link Nigeria, her artists and many nations together. The works are the Traditional creative and contemporary arts which have economically, politically and aesthetically aided in nation building.
Creative arts are appreciated as they aid nation building in every nation. Apart from economic purposes, the Nigerian creative art works are widely appreciated in the globe. They develop high aesthetic appreciation in many people irrespective of tribe, ethnicity, and nationality. Many of such Nigerian creative arts with high aesthetic qualities and which are appreciated in the globe is the Nok culture, Benin bronzes, Ife art and Igboukwu bronze potteries.
One of the Nigerian events, festival of arts and culture (FESTAC) was a linkage historiography activity that brought many African nations together in order to showcase their creative art and rich cultural heritage. The creative art works displayed at the FESTAC festivals appealed to people who appreciated them they informed the spectators about Nigeria and other African nations.
The creative art forums, Artists residency Grant/funding are programmes that have linked the Nigerian artists and others in the globe. The programmes give creative artists the opportunities to create forms in their own styles.
Finally the Nigerian images/ Icons and some contemporary artists are very famous and attract the tourists whose presence help to link and project Nigeria for global recognitions.
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