“Nigeria Speaks,” an art exhibition hosted by the Consulate General of Nigeria in Atlanta, highlighted the wide breadth and richness of Nigerian culture, arts, creativity, literature, language and other forms of expression at the residence of the Consul General of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The exhibition incorporated a fusion of various artistic activities, including song, dance and various works of art by Chief (Mrs.) Nike Okundaye, the night’s featured artist. Atlanta mayor Andre Dickens discussed the importance of African art in his opening remarks. The Morehouse College Glee Club also performed during the event.
For the Consulate General of Nigeria in Atlanta, the exhibition was designed to generate momentum in unlocking art and culture’s transformative potential, as well as strengthening the cultural diplomacy between Nigeria and the United States.
“Whether in art, music, poetry, spoken word, drama, theatre of films, creativity has increasingly become the most valued tool for the expression of our identity as Africans,” said Amina Amira Smaila, Ph. D, Consul General of Nigeria, Atlanta.
The night began with a dance performance by the Atlanta Igbo School. As government representatives, artists and international institutions congregated in the residence of the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the culture of Nigeria remained prominent the entire evening, both in conversation and performance.
“‘Nigeria Speaks’ is central to sharing, reshaping, retelling and projecting Nigerian and African art, in all of its diversity, depth and beauty,” Smaila said.
The exhibition opening was in collaboration with the Nike Art Gallery, located in Lagos, Nigeria. As proprietress of the gallery, and one of Africa’s most celebrated artists, Chief Nike Okundaye walked around the residence in a large varicolored gele, a Nigerian head wrap. “Nigeria Speaks” highlighted Okundaye’s work as a leading art expressionist and one of the foremost personalities in the development of African arts and crafts.
The exhibition featured a small fraction of the gallery’s collection of over 8,000 pieces of art. The works on display depicted the hopes and aspirations of the African people, especially the womenfolk who dealt with various daily challenges concerning family, socio-economic development, nation building and overall outlook of human existence.
“Now more than ever, we must begin to allow our humanity to express itself. The role of art, as the custodian of our heritage, cannot be minimized. I am heartened to see that Nigerian artists, and artists of African heritage are advancing the African narrative and having tremendous impact, despite the many structural barriers they face,” Smaila said.
In September, the Consulate will host the 15th annual Headies Awards at the Cobb Energy Center, in an effort to continue promoting and celebrating Nigeria’s rich culture in the United States.