The first Academic Cartoon Exhibition in Nigeria was recently held in Yaba College of Technology (YABATECH) Art Museum with unrelenting support from Ford Foundation.
The exhibition tagged’ YABA CARTOON NATION, 20 ALUMNI OF YABATECH SHOWCASE WORK TO ENCOURAGE YOUNGER ARTISTS. The presentation showcased the work of 20 Alumni of the institution who are established, cartoonists.
The exhibition is a retrospect of editorial cartoonists by Alumni of Yaba Art School from the ’50s till date. The works of these artists have embodied commentary and protest on development and social justice through the decades of the existence of the school.
These artists project reiterations of the pulse of the people or direct reactions to the social environment. The role of Nigerian editorial cartoons in documenting, critiquing, and reflecting social and political issues cannot be overemphasized. The creation of cartoons in this context works through a melding of non-institutionalized history collection and activism through subject engagement on national issues that affect individually and collectively.
Mike Azukwo an editorial cartoonist with Thisday newspaper and alumnus of the College, who was one of the many cartoonists present at the exhibition has been effectively using cartoons for social change.
According to him, this is a very good opportunity for the young ones; there are people who are actually surviving on this. I graduated from this school in 1996, and I have been surviving solely on art, and the huge part of it is cartoons. Students must know that there is a future in cartoons. The cartoons show the form of art in effecting a change in society.
“We are communication artists, we use our talents to communicate, the exhibition is, therefore, a genuine appreciation of what we are doing. I want to enjoin the students to embrace this profession, I have discovered that with our talent we speak to power, we are touching the sensibility of some sections in the society, but the profession is not well celebrated and appreciated. The cartoon profession is very powerful, interesting, excited and profitable; it makes you more diverse and impactful to your society. I will advise the lecturers to let the students take the advantage of what they see here today, and build on it.”
Dr Odun Orimolade, the curator of Yaba Art Museum disclosed that the exhibition showed the impact of what the Alumni have done in advocating social justice and change in this nation. The theme of this maiden exhibition is based on issues relating to social justice for youth development, and regular advocacy for sexual harassment and gender-based violence.
Dr Adeola Ademola Head of Department Fine Art Department hinted that the 20 Artists that featured in the exhibition have addressed critical issues in a comical relief way, it is not about proffering solution, but they have been able to pinpoint where there are issues to be addressed in the society and they have been able to do it very well.
Dr Pius Egiolamhen, Dean, School of Art, Design & Printing said that the school is looking into how to improve and create a platform for artists and art lovers to come to Yaba Art Museum and use it as a centre of research for their work.
The Rector of the institution, Engr. Obafemi Omokungbe stated in his opening remarks that government alone cannot fund education, he appealed to the alumni to give back to the College, in reciprocation for the huge knowledge they acquired from the College. He thanked the Ford Foundation for their magnanimous act of its continuous support and sponsoring the laudable project.
The cartoons exhibition of this magnitude is expected to inspire the younger artists into using cartoons as a tool for social change.