Benin born and raised, Innocent Oziegbe Akhigbe is an academically inclined tapestry artist who favors wool as a medium. In this interview, he talks about his background and motivations, as well as his current work on the documentation of Africa’s historical events. Through tapestry, he aims to preserve the rich cultural African heritage and share it with the outside world. Continue reading to learn more about his work.
AWORANKA: How do you think the ancient, culturally rich city of Benin shaped your love for art and practice?
INNOCENT AKHIGBE: The artistic ambiance of the ancient city of Benin has offered me a great deal of philosophical knowledge, especially in the area of understanding the implications that go into the production of art from the ancient to contemporary times.
The art challenging environment of both Auchi Polytechnic and the University of Benin has shaped my artistic interest and practice in no small way; recalling from my tutelage in textile design at the University of Benin to the support, criticism, and encouragement by art enthusiasts in the city. I remain grateful to the city as the crucible of my artistic exploration.
AWORANKA: What influenced your interest in wool as a medium and tapestry as a practice?
INNOCENT AKHIGBE: Tapestry is a medium of art that weaves narratives into patterns, forms, and visuals. I believe this style is lacking in practice in Africa and I hope my artworks inspire other artists. My objective with tapestry is to tell African stories.
Africa is rich with historical events that have contributed to the advancement of the black race and I am willing to explore these events as a form of education and enlightenment. I am currently embarked on a journey to document African historical events through tapestry.
Over the years I was inspired by the need to project tapestry as an effective art form amidst painting, sculpture, photography, and printmaking, which has been already used for the documentation of African historical events.
"Africa is rich with historical events which contribute to the
advancement of the black race and I am willing
to explore these events as a form of education and enlightenment."
AWORANKA: How do you see art as a means of expression?
INNOCENT AKHIGBE: Art is a way of life and a way to communicate. More than an occupation or vocation, art has come to be a lifestyle for me which I do at ease and always. At the moment, my post-graduate program perfectly complements my studio practice, it enlightens me more and gives moral justification into the art practice. My art training on the other hand triggers a dynamic quest into my academic search.
AWORANKA: What do you hope your artworks reveal when you participate in an exhibition?
INNOCENT AKHIGBE: In the face of exhibitions, I hope my works reflect hope and strength for the black race and for Africa, who is rich with historical events that contribute to the world’s advancement.
AWORANKA: Which visual artists influenced your style and why?
INNOCENT AKHIGBE: Mohamed Moye, a master weaver from Egypt inspired me and ultimately enhanced my style. The expressive rendition of the human facial features in his portraitures gives me a better understanding of wool colour matching and distribution when weaving.
Discover the life and insights of many more African artists in Aworanka's Interview section: