The Sole Adventurer (TSA) Magazine and Africa Culture Foundation says it’s grooming art writers to intellectually engage the public with the works of artists and as a means of art archiving and preservation.
TSA Founder, Bukola Oyebode, spoke to LEADERSHIP Books & Arts at the TSA Art Writing Masterclass, a five-day programme, facilitated by Professor Chika Okeke Agulu of Princeton University, US, in Lagos. The masterclass saw the intensive and practical training of 12 arts writing enthusiasts and practitioners in the art of art analysis and writing.
Oyebode says the inspiration for the masterclass stems from her penchant for personal development. A quality that saw her enrolling in online courses on art writing with a German Institute, and realisation of the absence of art writers, at a time when she wanted to transition her blog to an online and print art magazine.
“I realised that if I am to build a team, it cannot be all about me. I knew there were others like me who need the space to express themselves and deep insights into the arts world that is as specialised a field as any other profession, but without the resource and privilege to acquire the requisite skills. The masterclass arose as a matter of sustainability of the training of art writers; writers whom other art magazines, both local and in diaspora, can trust to publish their writings,” affirms Oyebode. In choosing a facilitator for the masterclass, the self-proclaimed pseudo-academic, art writer, and social-preneur, says they aimed for one “whose scholarship extends beyond ‘now’, whose experience is part of the period being reviewed, and one who lived the references we are reviewing, and that led to Professor OkekeAgulu.”
However, being a pseudo-academic – one who revels in the acquisition of knowledge but too much of a traveler at heart to be an academician – Oyebode says it is a life-long mission to unite the academic and mainstream world of art.
“I am happy to be in the mainstream to create this relevant project, and bring in the academic world as facilitators of the programme. That way their knowledge is transitioned to a newer Generation
A similar need to converge culture, education and society drove her to establish the TSA Foundation, which has embarked on projects like Aforum Africa in partnership with Wana Productions, the organisation of Wana Udobang, one of Nigeria’s export female poets, to address the role of women artists in the arts sector.
The foundation also works with charity organisations, and the Women & Youth Art Foundation to enlighten poor indigent kids and teenagers via exhibition tours, among other activities.
Oyebode, who started off in the art world, as an art blogger, with media experience as a writer, content creator and the wise words from her previous employer, TV Personality, Funmi Iyanda, “to get out of the country as often as possible, if she must compete in the global arts scene,” admits her unusual career suits her love for travelling.
She also admits her personal life exists around the art space, thus, unable to completely separate art and work from her personal life.
Among the lessons gleaned from her travels, Oyebode observed the need for professionalism in Nigeria’s art sector.
She states that while artists reserve the right to create whatever they want, and critics have no right to compare works of artists from different locales, they do have a say in quality of materials, and professionalism in art practice.
Artists’ works, she says, are also expected to reflect their innate environment. In grooming future art critics, TSA aims to organise 10 masterclass sessions spread out to a session per annum. Funding from from the Goethe Institut, Support and Connect Grant, as well as capital from its foundation, ensured success of the masterclass.
However, with the observed challenges of accommodation and travel fares for nonLagos resident participants, and to attain a West African reach, she says monitoring and evaluation of the programme will be carried out per session to determine its impact.
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