HOW do we make art more relevant to the public? How do we stretch our artistic potential beyond the boundaries of our own country? Hard questions to which many Ugandan visual artists have not found an answer.
There are even harder questions as painters, sculptors, designers continue to explore the meaning of their work to the world. Nuwa Wamala Nnyanzi, Ugandaâ€™s most renowned batik artist, has an idea. â€œTailor art to the needs of the people, let them see themselves through art, do not restrict yourself â€” be free.â€
Nnyanzi has spent the last three months trying his theory out. The seasoned painter has just concluded a three-month tour of the US in which he shared various dimensions of Ugandan art to different sections of American society. The tour, which started on May 28, has taken him to Nashville, Atlanta, Minnesota and other places.
Nnyanzi held art workshops, seminars and also toured art museums. He interacted with children using his own work to relate Ugandan art to the world of these American youngsters. This was at Vanderbilt University.
Nnyanzi engaged the young souls first by introducing them to African and Ugandan art and then later challenging them to paint their impressions. He also conducted batik painting sessions with Wal-Mart Human Resources Managers and Marketing executives in a seminar that sought to relate the batik painting to daily managerial challenges.
By giving them a chance to express their feelings on the canvass, Nnyanzi says, these managers discovered a lot more about themselves and the environment in which they work. â€œThey left more aware of their roles in the work place than they had been before.â€
It was another chance for the artist to share his knowledge and also to showcase what Uganda has to offer in terms of arts and culture. Nnyanziâ€™s poignant work, characterised by warm friendly colours and rhythmic patterns continues to touch peopleâ€™s hearts the world over.
Nuwa Nnyanzi makes his mark in the US