It’s mid-September, in some regions of the world the rains pound the earth, non- stop, flooding dusty roads and leaving environmental specialists with the hard job of trying to tackle blocked drainages and other waste disposal hazards. It is at this point the LR Team would like to introduce on our ‘’borderless motivational platform’’ a man who has found out that one man’s waste is another man’s treasure, a man who has been able to re-purpose waste into art, creating private and public art installations that promote dialogue on sustainability and renewable energy, a man whose works have been extensively exhibited in Nigeria and beyond African shores with reviews in both local and international media. We hope that by looking through his eyes, we will all become enabled, to see our environments differently.
We introduce you to Ifesinachi Comedy Nwanyanwu an award winning self-taught visual artist, playwright, poet, philosopher, and environmental activist. He is a Nigerian cultural Ambassador. In using waste to create conversational art pieces, his works ignites dialogues that promote spiritual consciousness and socio-political complexes. Turning waste, refuse and found objects into amazing sculptures and installations, he brings the discussion on recycling and sustainability into focus. A founding member of Environmental Art Collective Foundation (ENACOF), Curator of “One Environment“; An environmental hybrid platform synergizing efforts towards environmental sustainability. He is also a founding member of Centre for Art and Creative Talents (CACT), and a member of Right Earth, an environmental advocacy group based in South Africa.
I was born in June 1975 and even though I grew up in the University Town of Nsukka, I started my career as an undergraduate studying Crop Production far afield at the University of Agriculture in Markurdi, Benue State. I had always been creative as a child and while in school I started doing portraits for students. I realized that art could also be lucrative and I had a flair for it. I began to explore waste as a medium for art and quickly found out that one man’s waste was another man’s treasure. Leaving Nsukka, and coming to the city of Lagos, which had a vibrant art community, I initially missed the absence of greenery. However being an artist, I explored the materials I could work with and all the things I could do with them. Lagos had so much refuse; plastic bottles, sacks, cans, radio cassette tapes etc. I believed and still believe that any kind of refuse has some artistic value and for the past 16 years I embraced creativity with such great passion and tenacious determination that it eventually metamorphosed into a full-time career. It took some time for people to appreciate what I do but over the years we have built an audience of people who appreciate these works. People need to connect to buying discarded sacks for instance that have been taken and made into art – much unlike regular art. That in summary dear readers is my life. I am Ifesinachi Nwanyanwu asking us to think again – #whywasteit?
The LR Team members, who worked with Ifesinachi on this feature article led by our editor Erhio Obodo, were not surprised when he turned out half a page. If only words were ‘waste’ one of them said, Ifesinachi would have gone to town, non-stop expressing his ideas in volumes. Nonetheless, his brevity in words, is compensated for by the sheer force of his determination and his tenacity at getting things done. Ifesinachi Comedy Nwanyanwu has been able to influence within his community and globally, a movement of environmental activists using creativity to interrogate our ecosystem and promote sustainability. He is presently the Curator of House 33, a creative melting pot for artists. A space dedicated for creative persons working on different forms of artistic expressions, writers, poets, visual artists, and performers alike. He is also the Maker Librarian at the British Council sponsored Maker Library Network. An initiative of the British Council to harmonise Make Space, Exhibition Space and Library into one defined Space. They are two Maker Library Networks in Nigeria, one in Lagos and one in Abuja, with Ifesinachi Comedy Nwanyanwu as the Maker Librarian in Abuja.
Starting from a humble beginning, Ifesinachi has been able in his modest profile, to show that being true to one’s passion with an uncommon dedication, can stand you tall in any endeavour. His works are being widely exhibited around the world, in South Africa, Switzerland, Canada, Greece and many more. Presently he lives in Abuja, working on his next solo exhibition coming up in November 2016.
The waste is always there; some you generate in your own home while some are generated by others. Individuals can join in this fight to save the environment. Ifesinachi has started this campaign by collecting waste and turning it into art. We at the LR would never look at bottle tops or covers the same way ever again. So the next time your kids or wards bring back home an art project check around the house (and garbage) and you’ll be amazed at what you could see. Why waste it?