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Awka Onslaught of Female Artists

By Uzor Maxim Uzoatu

The normal sight is to almost always see male artists exhibiting, with just one or two females added as mere adjuncts. The tune has changed in Awka, the capital city of Anambra State with a revolutionary all-female exhibition.

The Awka Museum Foundation began the All-Female Exhibition entitled “XX Exhibition” in Zimife Harris-Eze Foundation Hall at 261 Zik’s Avenue, Umudioka Village, Awka, Anambra State on November 21, 2021. The exhibition will close on January 1, 2022.

It bears reiteration that from November, 2021 to January 1, 2022, female artists are totally in-charge in the blacksmithing epicentre of Awka.

The exhibition team is made up of Chioma Favour Okoli, curator at Awka Museum Foundation; Osinachi Immaculeta Okafor, a post-graduate student of Art History at Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka; and Chinyere Faith Okeke, a post-graduate student, International Media Cultural Work,

Hochschule Darmstadt, Germany.

According to the eminent collector and museum founder, Arthur Harris-Eze, “The last two decades have witnessed the outcry of the marginalization of women in the African society at large for being the insignificant and invisible ‘other’; in politics, as in the case of the 1929 Aba women’s riot, where the women pulled resistance to the Colonial Administration’s attempt to impose taxation on them by protesting in the nude; in the arts where women, the main originators and creators of the Uli – indigenous wall and body painting – have either been underrepresented or under projected. This copious apathy towards women in the art world has not left out Clara Ugbodaga Ngu, the first Nigerian female artist, art teacher and administrator who even taught the so-called ‘Zaria rebels’.”

It is in an “attempt to gain back lost voices drowned by the storms of age, marriage, societal norms and stereotypes,” the Awka Museum Foundation fundamentally “decided to give the cheese back to the women.”

“We must be heard too!” the women insist, adding: “We want to see how women view themselves in a world of their own – that is why we are excluding the men. We want to speak freely and hear our echoes over and over again.”

In this regard, “the exhibition is free-themed, to enable the artists to express their freedom to the fullest.”

Harris-Eze informs: “We are not limiting the exhibition to just paintings, we are embracing other genres – sculpture, textile, fashion, new media, installations, ceramics, anything art! It would be documented and curated online by Chinyere Faith Okeke, whose Master’s thesis is centred on this exhibition and Osinachi Okafor, a post-graduate student of Art History, Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka.”

The concluding declaration goes thusly: “This exhibition is going to be one of a kind, especially in South-Eastern Nigeria and with the generous and relentless support of the Awka Museum Foundation, we are making history. Our vision is to form a sense of inclusion for all women, to show their strength, resilience and courage while letting them know that there is a safe community for them where they can be themselves without restriction. We want them to understand that being a woman can come with limitless artistic possibilities and that lots of audiences can come out just to celebrate them through this exhibition.”

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