In a world where the long history of humankind’s race to civilization has left debilitating environmental consequences, many individuals and corporations are finally standing up to champion causes focused on reducing the effects of pollution on our planet. Globally acclaimed climate activists like 16 year old Greta Thunberg have called attention to the need for humanity to develop ways of reducing the volume of waste released into the planet. Others like her continue to stress the urgent need for a harmonized vision of environmental consciousness and functional policies that will ensure the safety and protection of our world.
One such micro activist is Abuja-based artist, Ayo Amurawaiye who grew up and schooled in Port Harcourt, but has since relocated to Abuja, where he is trying to earn a living by doing what he loves.
Amurawaiye creates art in many forms: portraiture, painting (canvas and wearable clothing), as well as sculpting. His choice of sculpting media is a reflection of his attempt to “pay his respects to nature and cut down on pollution.” He makes sculptures out of sawdust and papier-mâché, as his personal contribution to reducing the volume of paper waste in his immediate environment.
Upcycling is a genre of art that deals with creative reuse of waste materials by reducing the volume of non-biodegradable waste products or materials polluting the earth, resulting in a reduced pollution rate as well as a reduced need for the production of new products.
There is already a strongly-rooted niche of Nigerian upcycling artists who reuse things like bottle tops, old tires, and discarded snack wrappers, converting them to creative and aesthetically pleasing pieces. Amurawaiye’s art transforms what would normally be trash, littering the streets and garbage dumps, into interesting forms that showcase his talent and skill.
He recounts that his late father encouraged him to indulge his artistic expression early in life, and it was mainly because of this support that he followed up on opportunities to better his craft. The rest of his family soon became convinced of the authenticity of his passion when his interest refused to wane even after many years. He has begun to rely more on his natural artistic instincts, thus pushing himself to experiment with new forms of expression. Memorable amongst his recent work was his 2D brand signage displayed in April at the Ojuju Xperience 2.0, a 4/20 festival held in Abuja.
On what fuels his designs and creativity, he simply says that art gives him peace and focus, allowing him to tune out distractions for hours at a time. While Amurawaiye admits that standing out in the art world is no easy feat, he is determined to continue to follow his passion and is hopeful that he will hold environmental waste management and recycle exhibitions before the year runs out so that he can teach others the benefits of recycling.
To get updates on Ayo Amurawaiye’s art journey, connect with him on Instagram @coffeebblack and @yeyotemple.
Interview conducted by Joy Mamudu.
Joy “MissMeddle” Mamudu is a Nigerian woman who dreams of someday publishing a book and owning a puppy. In the meantime, she tweets via @msmeddle and drinks a lot of tea.