At the end of three years, we expect our students to display items from their various course units in our annual BIFA Exhibition held every Trinity Semester (May-August). In this exhibition our students display their best work be it in painting, graphics, fabrics, fashion, or ceramics. But they do not get there in one day, it is a process of learning, experimenting, refining, trial and error and finally perfection.
It is a common misconception that an artist is only a painter, but in reality, an artist is someone who uses one or several mediums of expression to convey emotion, thoughts or aesthetic perspective whether by the use of clay, paint, fabric, wood, stone.
There is a little artist, ceramist, fabric decorator, fashion designer and even a painter in us all. This is a God-given talent and others are nurtured or taught. The doodling we do when seated in a meeting that seems never to end, or in class when a topic seems impossible to comprehend, that is the little artist showing himself/herself. In BIFA we turn those doodles, faces, lines and squiggles into works of art, whether expressed in clay, paint or fabric.
We teach our students to trust their ideas and give them the freedom to express them, explore the possible and impossible. We allow them to express their art as therapy to deal with societal issues like HIV/AIDS, child abuse, corruption, poverty, global warming to name but a few. We refine their natural talent and nature of the budding artist. We help them learn the rules and break them like artists. We encourage fun in creativity and create an environment full of inspiration, as we know a world without art is just boring.
We ask “What would the world be without art?’’ And we answer it by helping them see that there is art everywhere they look: on flowers, birds that fly overhead, the cheetah in the grassland, the bark of trees, the clouds in the sky, the fish in the oceans, the peeping rays through the clouds, the rocks on the ground and we train them how to listen when it speaks, understand its language, and recognize it when they see it.
We teach our students the ‘’language of art’’ and how to translate it, be it on paper, on clay or on fabric. We train their brains to see the beauty in simplicity. We teach them to be inspired by art and to inspire using art. We teach them to use art as a way to escape, to create, to imagine and be themselves.
And at the end of it all, we teach them how to tell a story using their various media and create rooms or spaces that best express and show off their skills. With a dedicated team, our students are able to put on a three-day exhibition that is open to the public. Here they showcase high-quality pieces ranging from handmade furniture, soft furnishing, paintings, handmade ceramic pieces, fashion items, fabric-decorated items, graphics and a whole range of other items.
“Art and love are the same things: It’s the process of seeing yourself in things that are not you: Art enables us to find ourselves at the same time. Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life. Life doesn’t imitate art, it imitates bad television. Therefore let us nurture the artist in us; let us learn the language of art and let us use art to add beauty and to change the world.” Albert Einstein said, “Creativity is intelligence having fun.”
The author is a lecturer in Fashion and Design in the Fine Art Department at UCU