Activist Art at Ark Pioneer

Ark Pioneer pupils have been exploring the work of Arinze Stanley, a Nigerian hyper-realist artist. Integrating his personal experiences in Nigeria, Arinze drives at creating art that triggers a degree of emotional connection between his viewers and his artworks. Also gearing his works towards social and political activism, he hopes to use his art to speak for those who can’t speak out for themselves.

Pupils were given the task of producing a personal response to Stanley’s work. They were asked to reflect on current political and social issues they personally felt strongly about. They decided what they wanted to highlight through their work and for whom the work would speak out for. The aim to use their own art as a tool for social justice and a way for their voice to be heard.

The pupils were very thoughtful and mature in their responses. Here you can see their personal responses, such a high standard of work considering they had less time due to school closures. Below are some other student responses describing the thinking behind their artwork and the messages they wanted to communicate:

‘My work is showing the lack of sight, something is stopping me from seeing as I have covered my eyes. This may be something that has affected my life or possibly an expression of insecurity.’

‘Racism has an impact on me, it’s not right to hurt someone because of their race or religion. Arinze and I are both from Nigeria and we both use a lot of emotion in our work.’

‘Political issues in North Korea and China is something I feel strongly about. There is no freedom of speech. In my artwork I tried to show that some people cannot speak due to the pressure from the government.’

‘In my artwork I used tape over the mouth to symbolise that some people don’t have a voice and don’t have freedom of speech.’

‘I empathise with women as they are not always treated fairly.’

‘My work shows how strongly I feel about women's rights and how everybody should be treated equally, no matter what their gender, ethnicity, age or beliefs.’

‘Everyone’s voice should be heard.

Pupils are continuing to engage in artistic activism, responding to current events through their home learning booklets.

‘Any form of art is a form of power; it has an impact, it can affect change – it can not only move us, it makes us move.’ - Ossie Davis