The creation and innovation of Art pieces have been known to have ties with the Artist’s personal background, religion and environment. It is common to come across Art that depicts the stories and journey of its curator. Thus, Africa being the home of multilingual and cultural heritage, it has witnessed major blooming contemporary Artists expressing their emotions and experiences with different artistic tools as, canvass, Acrylic, oil, paints, brush, charcoal, textiles, erasers and pen.
Artists have revealed that empathy, emotions and religious morals have played a crucial role towards the birth of their Artistic content. These, they explain influences the method and approach they infuse while depicting their thoughts into Art.
Contemporary Visual Artist, Chidinma Nnoli who was born into a catholic family within the eastern region of Nigeria, Enugu before moving to Lagos, where she was raised, explained that Catholicism plays a big role in her work today.
Can you tell us briefly about your background and your journey towards becoming an Artist?
I got my B.A at the university of Benin in 2018 and I have been practicing professionally since then. I can’t remember when art started for me but I do remember when I started taking it seriously. In high school I was really interested in textile designs and I decided that is what I wanted to do in university, but after experiencing painting I decided to shift my priorities cause I felt painting was a more flexible means of expression. I still borrow ideas from my textile background like stenciling, which I infuse into my work.
How would you describe Art?
Art does not mean one thing. However, to me it is vulnerable pieces of magic and fragments of my experiences. Its spontaneous, its fun.
What inspires you to create Art?
Personal stories and stories I empathize with inspire my art. I’m very curious about how people are due to social conditioning so I navigate towards stories like that. Books inspire me too, one line in a really good book could become a poem that i write and then a whole body of work i express with oil on canvas.
The need to recreate my experiences inspires and motivates me to create so people could understand that they’re not alone and we’re all connected somehow by our experiences. I just want people to get a glimpse of what it feels like in my head.
What sort of Art do you create and what sort of audience do you curate for?
People see my work and assume that I’m a feminist because I paint women the most. I mostly paint women and I’m a feminist but I do not always make feminist Art, most of my work are based on personal experiences and stories I empathize with. I’m a woman so empathizing with female experiences more come naturally to me but I just want people to see my work and be able to relate with these experiences even if they haven’t lived it regardless of the gender I choose to represent on canvas.
When i started looking at art, i found out i was drawn to stories that moved me. I’d see pure honest art and relate to it on a personal level, I’d almost cry. I knew that was what i wanted people to feel while looking at my work and i just navigated towards doing that with my art. I’m drawn to personal stories and lived experience and I want people to experience that in my work.
In your opinion, what is the volume of which, Nigerians value arts?
There are two sides to the value Nigerians have for Art. Aesthetically, they value it but for the most part a lot of Nigerians still do not see it as something worth investing in or taking seriously, which is why parents are kinda skeptical about their kids doing Art. So that begs the question of value cause for something to be valuable money has to be involved. Nigerians are not there yet but we are getting there.
What are the major challenges you have faced within the Artistic space and how have you been able to beat them?
I think the biggest for Artists is self doubt. Just DO THE WORK! I have an Artist friend I go to when I need advice, and then he tells me to just do the work and cloud out the struggles. Thus, whenever i doubt myself i just keep doing the work and researching ways to get better. Do this and with time everything else will happen organically. Another challenge is finding opportunities like Art residencies in Nigeria.
What do you enjoy doing when you are not creating Art?
I love listening to music, I dance and imagine myself in a Taylor swift music video, its crazy but music is something I’d have strongly considered if I wasn’t doing art. I love watching old movies and reading. I write poetry sometimes.
What sort of message or story does your Artwork pass across to the world and is there a connection with the process of its curation?
My art talks about different things cause my subject matter is always changing. when I create I always try as much as possible to create from the heart and that’s personal to me an artist, I am deeply concerned about the honesty of my work which is why themes of my art border around emotions, social construct and how it relates to the human condition, cultural conditioning and the truth or the lack thereof in our everyday lives.
As much as my life experiences influence my Art a lot, while interpreting my Art like to detach myself as the subject and explore the creative process in way that I’m not limited to my own experiences alone. I want people to detach the Artist while interpreting my work, you understand it better.
Also, sometimes my process involves making pieces of art that are inspired by poems I write so yes, there is a connection between the process and the message.
How do you reference current social or political issues in your pieces?
It depends on what I’m working on. My two major series talked about how the autocracy of the patriarchy within the family can be a breeding ground for toxicity which affects the psychology of a growing child. I also worked on the psychological trauma’s of sex slavery and I shot a documentary on that project for human trafficking month in January.
How do you navigate the art world?
One step at a time. I paint, look for opportunities online and shoot my shot . I’m quite comfortable with doing these through my phone.