Visual art appreciation in Nigeria: The Zaria art society experience
There is no doubt that one of the greatest creative impetuses injected into Nigerian art was made possible by, among other things, the activities of the first art institution in Nigeria to award a Diploma certificate in art, Nigerian College of Arts, Science and Technology (NCAST). NCAST started in 1953/54 at their Ibadan branch but they could not rationalize their art programme ab initio but organized art exhibition to raise the public awareness of the programme. In September 1955 the art programme became a full department and relocated to their permanent site at Zaria, in northern Nigeria, with 16 students. This paper focuses on NCAST impact on modern Nigerian art and the gradual, but steady, growth of other art activities in Nigeria since NCAST. The paper also discusses the emergence of an art society from NCAST, known as Zaria Art Society and the extension of the philosophy of the Art Society into the church by one of its member, Bruce Onobrakpeya, who represented most of his Christian images in traditional Urhobo style as against the popular western style. The paper argues that Nigeria has a rich art and diverse culture which existed long before the colonial reign and thus encouraged the efforts of the Zaria Art Society in re-appropriating local forms and motifs in their modern art by way of an ideology known as 'Natural synthesis.'