BY TAJUDEEN SOWOLE
THE US-based artist, Chuks Echiemeze Okoye’s solo show titled Echoes Of The Past held at Terra Kulture Victoria Island, Lagos recently provides a platform to understand what the art climate is, in the Diaspora.
Though the one week-show had low turnout, it experimented with strong aesthetic and thematic content, which would help bolster new ways of thinking. The show, however, should not discourage Okoye, who was only having a ‘real’ feel of home after three decades of sojourn in the US.
Okoye (left) with Georgia, U.S. Congressman, John Lewis
Okoye, a member of the Nigerian Elite Art Society in the US, has received recognition from the Consulate General of The Federal Republic of Nigeria for his effort in promoting African culture and talent.
Okoye’s art focuses on education, which is a good way of promoting African art and ideals. He says, “Echoes Of The Past is a continuation of my mission in the US. That is, educating people on the virtues of imbibing good culture.”
He also reveals how his values of life have promoted his art in places such as Ramses and The African Origin of Civilisation in Dallas, Texas; Black History Month Celebration at the Epcot Centre, Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida; New York Art Expo; and the National Black Arts Festival in Atlanta, Georgia.
His active involvement in the civic and art communities has earned him countless awards and recognitions around the country and abroad.
THE artist, whose works adorn the walls of the Nigerian Embassy in Washington D.C. and the Consulate offices in Atlanta, Georgia, devotes his time, talent and personal fund to propagate his art gospel in different communities, charitable organisations and schools including UNCF, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation NBCF, the Atlanta Minority AIDS Foundation and Georgia’s Sheriff Association — Youth’s foundation.
He says, “I have used my cultural experiences while growing up in eastern part of Nigeria in the 70s and early 80s as the benchmark for my show.”
Works such as Ancestral, Be Fruitful and Multiply, Great Expectation and the theme Echoes of the Past underscore the artist’s cultural nostalgia abroad.
|One of Okoye's mixed media, Echoes of the Past II|
He says: “A society that does not preserve and promote her traditional values tends to lose an essential part of her history.”
OKOYE was at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, from 1980 to 1981, before he moved to the University Of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma’s College of Fine Arts and Industrial Arts in 1985. He graduated in 1987 and ever since, has been living in the US, where he has had some solo shows including Ancestral Legacy at Southwestern Bell Telephone Company, Dallas, Texas, June 1991; and Reflections shown at Unique Gallery, Atlanta, Georgia in May 1995.