3 Uniben MFAs okay programme

Posted: May 4, 2012 in arts/culture

Three of the recently graduated Master’s in Fine Arts (MFA) students of the University of Benin, Edo State, have described their degrees as a realisation of their life-long dreams of becoming masters in the visual art genre, just as they expressed gratitude to God for surviving the rigours of the programme.

The graduates; Stephen Ekeamaye, Olajide Opaleye and Olatoye Okunuga, are among the 17 who became Master’s in Fine Arts (MFA) degree holders after their final exhibition and defence of works at the at the Ekenwan Campus of the University of Benin, Edo State.

It would be recalled that last month, 17 gifted Nigerian artists graduated from the prestigious the University of Benin’s Department of Fine & Applied Arts.

Supervised by Dr Sweet Ebeigbe, the Head of Department (HOD), Fine & Applied Arts Department, and under the coordination of Dr John Ogene, the programme’s Post Graduate Coordinator, the 17 Masters in Fine Art (MFA) graduates are spread across various disciplines in the department made up of three MFA Textile Design artists, five MFA Painters, two MFA Sculptors, two Print makers, one web artist as well as four ceramists.

Describing the experience garnered during programme at the Department of Fine & Applied Arts, ‘interesting’ Ekeamaye said the degree bagged at the end was also a dream come true for him as an artist and presently a lecturer in Graphic/Printmaking art at the Delta State Polytechnic, Ogwashi Uku.

“My experience on the MFA programme is quite interesting. I’ll say it was a dream come true for me. And I feel really elated and I give God all the glory,” said the Sapele, Delta State-born Ekeamaye, who equally holds a HND in Graphic Design.

Also reacting, Osogbo, Osun State-born ceramist Olajide Kehinde Opaleye thumbed up the lecturers just as he commended the quality of the course programme leading to his Master’s degree award.

“My MFA experience has been very rewarding, thanks to the good lecturers I had and the will to succeed. My thanks also goes to all my course mates for their support and contributions as I pray for the Good Lord to continue to keep and guide them all,” prayed Opaleye.

The artist who also holds a second master’s degree in Visual Arts from the University of Ibadan, Oyo State is presently a lecturer in Ceramics at the Kogi State College of Education

On his part, Ile-Ife, Osun State-born painter Olatoye Okunuga, said his Master’s programme afforded him the opportunity to master the conversion of Yoruba architectural forms and motifs into a grotesque asymmetrical formation of organic and geometric shapes.

“My works have been used as a weapon of propaganda for social political reforms and as a document of faith for democratic ideals,” said the artist who attended the renowned Edo College as well as the Federal Polytechnic, Auchi School of Art.

The artist who has participated in various exhibitions in Nigeria in addition to handling several commissioned works, explained that his works  produced during programme involve ‘the liberating use of symbols, shapes and signs of Yoruba heritage, plucked from numerous artisanal traditions and reworked as a form of modern cryptography.’

“During my Master’s programme, I worked under three currents; (1) representational: this is when you can relate with my paintings just at a glance. (2) Stylization: representational forms are distorted and mutilated with motifs of harmonious colours, derived from the Yoruba traditional architectural forms. (3) Abstraction: found objects of wood cuts, ropes cover bottles spoons etc but mostly woodcuts into various shapes, reminiscent of angular shapes found on portals, windows, pillars arches, fretworks on afro-Brazilian style of building practices,” he said.

Rating the present crop of graduates from the department under the programme he coordinated, Dr John Ogene, the programme’s Post Graduate Coordinator, said he regards them in high esteem as they possessed unique talents rich with personal style and individuality.

“It has been a harvest of discoveries; the discovery of potential of the individual student and if you were here to see the final exhibition you’ll agree with me on that. The styles are very unique and impressive. I must also commend them for having persevered. The department laid down the requirements insisting that standards are to be maintained and kept in line with its tradition for excellence and the students keyed in to it. In fact I can confidently tell you from I’ve seen from them, they are yet to reach their full potential. They have raised the bar for others to come, which is what we do generally also,” stressed Dr Ogene.

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