WINDHOEK– Recycling materials might seem like waste to many people but for some turning these materials into something beautiful and inspiring is what makes a person artistic.
One of those people who finds beauty in waste materials is Nigerian -born Rasheed Akindiya, known by the name Akirash, who came to Namibia last year and has since been working with the art students of the University of Namibia (Unam) and the College of the Arts (Cota) in Katutura to help the students with different art projects. Akirash is a mixed media painter and sculpture, who has had various opportunities of exhibiting in over 50 countries, won many awards and best known for his unique artistic performances at the opening of his exhibitions. “I like to experiment things. My work reflects what I see and I design what I see. My ideas are about moment, people, environment and I love using waste materials, and turning them into something,” says Akirash.
Akirash has been performing with Unam and Cota students at various events such as the Unam cultural festival, National Theatre of Namibia (NTN) and at the Zoo Park. During discussions with the Unam students, Akirash noticed that they hardly come together to address issues, share ideas and to discourse their work. “This is some of the things I’ve talked to them about. They don’t go out to find information or social issues affecting them or most common to the country. If you want to be an artist, you need to stand for yourself, you don’t wait for anyone to do anything because the decision has to be yours,” he says.
Akirash adds that one of the problems is students not getting support from parents, which is a challenges that every artists face. “I want to prove to my parents that you don’t have to be a pharmacist to provide money. It’s fonder to do art, you just need to push beyond boundaries and it’s also the way you addresses yourself,” says he adding that he came across many mistakes local artists do especially when they are exhibiting. “When artists exhibit their work they don’t give people something to talk about, some would attend just for the snacks but if they could give something that people can talk about then they will forget about the snacks,” he emphasises.
He adds that artists in Namibia are lucky that they receive grants from the National Art Council (NAC), and that’s an opportunity for them to go out there. “In Nigeria there is nothing, we don’t receive grants, you do things for yourself but for artists here they should use that to go beyond, they need to mingle with each other, it’s not a competition. They need to push themselves to another level. They need to go out more, challenge themselves for competition outside the country and also attend workshops,” Akirash encourages urging local artists to always choose their best works when entering competitions. “When you are applying for workshops or competitions, always choose your best work, work that is more appealing because even if you don’t win, it’s going to give you exposure and you will learn a lot of techniques,” he advises.
Akirash adds that the John Muafengejo Arts Centre (JMAC), National Art Gallery Namibia (NAGN) and NAC are some of the places that are doing a good job in helping with artists. “NAC giving grants is a good thing and I hope people are not wasting it, the NAG also, I’m looking forward to see what they will be doing and as for JMAC exchanging ideas with students is a good thing.” says Akirash, concluding that he enjoyed his time in the country, all the people he worked with and hoping to see how students have used what he taught them.
If you would like to see what Akirash is all about then the College of Arts in Katutura will be the place to be on November 1 as he will do a preview of his work, followed by an exhibition at the NAGN on November 21 before his departure. All events will start at 18h00.
By Selma Neshiko