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Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Inspiring environmental change in Nigeria – Role that art plays

In 2019, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) revealed that floods had displaced approximately 1.9 million Nigerians. In addition to excess flooding, seasons of drought are another way that climate change has impacted the country, which affected agricultural activities in addition to loss of shelter.

Climate Justice
School children with artworks depiting climate change issues during the Arts for Climate march in Abuja

When it comes to taking action and spreading awareness to others as to how climate change is affecting the environment, art has the potential to play a pivotal role. From the museums that highlight plastic waste to exhibitions that work to address the value in recycling, here’s how art in Nigeria is working to address environmental concerns.

The Waste Museum

When understanding how art can be used to communicate and address the issues brought on by climate change, one museum in Ibadan city aims to make a change. The Waste Museum showcases art made from recycled waste material, highlighting the impact of plastic waste in Nigeria and how it affects the environment.

Jumoke Olowookere, a former visual arts teacher and founder of the museum, notes: “We have a long way to go to get to that sustainable world without waste. We need to get up and take responsibility for our waste. Stop littering the world with your waste.”

The museum, which showcases Olowookere’s art, also houses work from other artists, which “includes ottoman furniture and ceiling panels made from worn-out car tyres as well as curtains and jewellery produced from bottle tops,” notes the Reuters article.

Shining a light on ‘Recycled Matter’

When diving deeper into the ways that art can be used to address climate change issues in the country, one art exhibition, titled “Recycled Matter”, “examines issues that originate from the local but are connected with vital global conversation,” according to one New Telegraph post. Lagos-based art house Alexis Galleries, which presented the group exploration of exploratory works by four Nigerian artists – Samuel Nnorom, Yusuf Durodola, Konboye Eugene and Chukwuemeka M. Osisiego.

Curated by Mathew Oyedele, the exhibition featured three works by the artists, with the New Telegraph article going on to discuss the work of each artist. To highlight just one of the artists and how their work addresses the environment via recycling, it’s noted that Eugene “works primarily with decorated flip flops obtained from drainages and dumping grounds.”

How you can make an impact

While museums and exhibitions like Recycled Matter work to address climate change through art on a larger scale, individuals can make a difference as well by creating their own works of art right at home. One way to do this is by creating art that reflects the challenges brought on by climate change.

Drawing or painting a butterfly garden that features local butterflies, for instance, is just one example. Because butterfly gardens aid in sustaining butterfly populations that have been affected by habitat destruction, creating artwork that depicts a butterfly garden can aid in drawing attention to the matter.

While such an endeavor can seem daunting – especially to those who aren’t familiar with drawing aspects of wildlife, following an online tutorial will allow you to easily draw a butterfly garden step-by-step. By sharing artwork that reflects climate change, we can proactively help raise awareness of the ways that climate change impacts the environment around us.

Climate change is affecting the world in a variety of profound ways. Through their art, artists can draw attention to and address the impact that climate change has on both Nigeria and the world, whether it be via using recycled materials or individually creating something new to reflect the surrounding environment.

By Jackie Edwards

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