In pursuit of better art scholarship, artists, administrators converge on Lagos

A COALITION of art administrators and teachers from the academia converged practitioners for a forumtagged First International Conference on the State of Visual Arts Scholarship in Nigeria in the Era of Globalism, holding in the middle of the year at  Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, Victoria Island Lagos.  According to a brief from the organisers, the  academic discipline of Visual Arts at the tertiary level of Nigeria's educational system, which has evolved through various stages in the past six decades requires a critical review. The group notes that the curriculum started from the National Diploma in the 1950s to  PhD studio, currently being offered in some universities.

However, there have been issues in the journey through the academic ascendancy.  "In its evolutionary history, the discipline has witnessed desirable as well as many undesirable developments," says the group, which consists of professionals across institutions of higher learningin Nigeria. The grey areas include "limitations" ranging "from improper methods of instruction, mixed system of staff hire and fire, wrong or no research methods, curriculum inadequacy to poor text book development, all leading to poor studio output of trained artists amongst others."The organisers of the forum argue that the issues raised are largely blamed for imbalance rating of artists in the Nigerian academic environment. Parts of the proposal that articulates the mission of the gathering states: "In the field, artists have virtually lost grip of the art market to dictatorial collectors as quality critical and informed appreciation no longer reigns." On books and other academic materials needed to enhance art education, the group argues that publications that have been so rated as 'authoritatives' on art in Nigeria are authored by people who lack "appropriate training." But professionals who have been trained, the organisers lament "are by-passed as prophets of doom or accused of complacency." And in ensuring quality in the increased number of graduate programmes in Nigerian art academic environment – giving consideration to the demand of university education's regulatory body, National University Commission (NUC) – the forum hopes to look at a broader perspective.It notes NUC's response to global demands of research and development and agrees that the dynamics of change globally is overtaking archetypal models of degree definitions for studio artists in academics. A critical balance is however being suggested.  "The isolated solutions being advanced to it from within in Nigeria need interrogation and adequate guidance to avoid degeneration in quality." Eminent scholars, under the leadership of Professor Osa D Egonwa at Delta State University, it has been disclosed, will be conducting a two-day workshop on Studio Postgraduate programs; MFA andPhD studio. Topics include: (a) Research in Visual Arts (b) Methods and Materials (c) Presentation of Research Findings (d) How studio practice contributes to knowledge (e) Sources of Literature, knowledge and practice (f) Statement of the Studio Problem (g) Research Questions/Hypothesis  Some of the other art scholars involved are Prof. Ajibade Babson, Dr.Bojor Enamhe,  Dr. Ken Koli,, Zaria.  Dr. Adeyemi Kunle, Mr Mike Omoighe, Prof. Netto A. Emiemokumo,  Dr. Etido Inyang, Dr. Nelson Edewor, Prof. Cliff Nwanna and Mr.Iyama Gordy   Other topics will include  New Media and Image Making Devices. And some of the questions to be asked 3e; How much do our programmes respond to available new media and enhanced image making devices?. What are the prospects and challenges?

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