Let’s talk about sustainable art and its environmental impact. Traditional African art is well-known for its use of sustainable materials such as wood, clay, and natural fabrics, and it has always been a medium of self-expression. Unfortunately, with the arrival of colonialism, many traditional art forms were replaced by imported materials that were neither sustainable nor environmentally friendly. Nonetheless, many African artists have continued to create sustainable artwork using materials sourced locally.
In Africa during the 1950s and 1960s, a movement known as “Negritude” emerged to promote African culture and heritage. Many artists began to incorporate traditional African art forms and sustainable materials into their work around this time. Ben Enwonwu, a Nigerian artist, was one of the most well-known members of this movement. Enwonwu was a modern African art pioneer who created stunning sculptures using natural materials such as wood and clay to reflect African culture and heritage.
Today, African artists such as Egzo, Mounou Désiré Koffi, and Abou Sidibé use sustainable materials to create fine artwork that promotes sustainability and raises awareness about environmental issues. Egzo, a Parisian artist, creates environmentally friendly artwork using recycled materials such as old cigarette packets. His “xo [beat] box” boxes are both “musical paintings” that question the tradition of two-dimensional painting and access portals to the artist’s virtual reality digital music. Ivory Coast artist Mounou Désiré Koffi creates intricate tapestries and paintings out of natural fabrics such as cotton, silk, and wool. And Abou Sidibé from Mali creates stunning sculptures out of recycled materials like cans, plastic bottles, and wires that reflect the Malian people’s cultural and social values.
These artists are not only promoting sustainability by using sustainable materials to create artwork, but they are also creating pieces that are valuable to new collectors. Many of these works are one-of-a-kind and unique, making them an excellent addition to any art collection.
Many African artists, however, continue to lack access to traditional art materials and struggle to afford art supplies. As art enthusiasts and collectors, we can help these artists by purchasing their work and donating art supplies to local art schools and studios. We can provide financial support to these artists while also promoting sustainable practices in the art world.
Let us continue to support African artists who create sustainable artwork, and together we can promote sustainability and make the world a better place while adding unique and valuable pieces to our art collections.