Abuja-based talented artist, Maryam Maigida is one of the exciting new talents on the scene warming up for greatness in the Nigerian Arts industry. Maryam’s magical thoughts in arts and nature has been turning heads in Abuja, but her profile soared recently when she dazzled the flamboyant Emir of Kano, His Royal Highness, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, with one of her paintings. Impressed by Maryam’s painting, the respected Emir promptly requested for the masterpiece to be mounted in one of his galleries. The Yobe-born young woman has also featured in countless exhibitions in Abuja where she displayed her creative works. She is also a member of the Female Artists Association of Nigeria (FEAAN) and she has featured in a couple of publications. The Ahmadu Bello University, (ABU), graduate spoke to Abuja Standard Publisher, SEYI ONIFADE few months ago about her artistic journey, challenges and aspiration for the future. Enjoy the excerpts.
Can we meet you please?
I am Maryam Umar Maigida, 25 years old from Yobe state. I am a visual artist whom obtained a B.A fine Arts degree from Ahmadu Bello University, in Zaria majoring in Art History.
I am a painter and an art historian. I have held one solo exhibition and have participated in almost 10 group exhibitions such as Denim 2016/2017. I’m also a member of the Female Artists of Nigeria. I have sold a large number of paintings both nationally and internationally. I have had the privilege to be interviewed on the Nigerian Television Authority, NTA, twice. I am able to apply my knowledge in Art History into my paintings, It enables me attach a lot of meanings and ideas to my paintings. My works serve as aesthetic purposes and also serve as means of communication in the society. With my paintings I am able to speak and spread some knowledge to my audience. My style of paintings ranges from
abstraction to near naturalistic in styles. I predominantly work with acrylics and other mediums such as Ankara, snail and periwinkle shells, bottoms, zips, balls, beads, paper Mache and many other mediums which will be best to convey the message I am passing with clarity. My works are mostly identified with the frequent use of vibrant Polychrome colours. Impressionism technique painting gives me room to portray these vibrant colours. Most times my abstract paintings give the audience the opportunity to discuss and perceive my works with their own opinion.
Can you share with our readers, what actually triggered your passion for art? How and when did you discover this talent? How did it all start?
I have always had passion for arts from my nursery school days. My dad is an architect, so he lets me make scribbles on his drawing board, when he noticed my interest in drawing he gave me tracing papers. To trace all my textbooks, my parents got me crayons and drawing books with colorful story books and that was how it all began. In my secondary school my arts teacher Mrs. Charity boosted me more which led me into studying fine Arts in ABU Zaria. But my talent for painting, I realized that in 300 level because I was always scared of painting, I always found it difficult. I slowly developed interest and challenged myself to face that which I find difficult – Art History being my major course. I then decided to take electives in abstract painting courses which marked the beginning of my passion for painting. I was able to do that with the help and influence of some of my great lecturers who believed in me – people like Dr Mu’azu and Prof. Jerry Buhari.
I have seen some of your Art works and they are simply amazing. Can you tell us where do you get your creativity and inspiration from?
I get inspirations from nature, sunrise and sunsets to be precise, my environment, and from every day to day activities. I feel the need to communicate about certain things such as problems faced in the society, corruption, child trafficking, bomb blasts and so on. I get inspired by works of other artists such as Jackson Pollock, Marcellina Okpotor, a Nigerian female artist and many more.
So which of your works would you consider the most challenging so far and why?
My work titled “Black is beautiful” it was most challenging because it was my second portrait painting which I was using monochrome colours to produce, black and white acrylic to be precise and at the same time I was using water colours for the first time ever for my background painting. It was so complicated that it took me 3 days and 3 nights. The idea of “black is beautiful was to emphasize the beauty of Africans (black people) so I used butterflies and roses to depict the beauty because they are a perfect and closest description of natural beauty.
I know you have featured in a couple of exhibitions here in Abuja, how would you describe those experiences and what really was the patronage like?
The experience was always a huge advantage to me. I learn more about what my audience appreciate, what I would do to improve my art and also learn from others exhibiting artist. The patronage is not very encouraging, sometimes I end up not selling any work in Exhibitions but the patronage doesn’t matter. It’s all about publishing myself and also making contacts with people that will have a positive impact in my life of art. I noticed every exhibition I attend opens a new door of success in my arts adventure.
So tell us your greatest challenge thus far and how have you been able to keep your head above water especially as a young talent trying to blossom in this tough Nigerian economy?
I believe there is a major factor which determines the benefits and challenges of an artist in the society and that is “Art Appreciation” if art is being appreciated and acknowledged the artist will get the ability to communicate and profit from being an artist. And then, if it turns out to be vice versa ,that’s when the artist encounter series of challenges, there are other several factors which plays a huge role in challenging an artist such as the religious factor, environmental, educational , economical and even political factors. For example, a religion which permits some areas of art and rejects some other areas or an economy which doesn’t value arts. I appreciate anything which comes to hand for me nothing is too small. I know the more I build myself, the more value will be attached to my works. So I erase all negative thinking and just push forward. It will be better one day
Tell us about your educational background?
I started my primary school at Mypa Nursery and Primary school Bosso Estate, Minna in Niger State and later completed my primary 6 in Fomwan Model Primary School in Abuja in 2005. I proceeded to Federal Government Girls College Bwari for my Secondary School education where I met my incredible Arts teacher, Mrs. Charity. She was a mother, friend and teacher who boosted my ability in Arts 2011.
I gained admission in 2011 to the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University to study Fine Arts.
I studied all the general fields of Fine Arts in my first two years and then my last two years I studied Art History as my major which did not stop me from painting. So I would say I have two majors in Art History and Painting,
What are you working on right now? Take us through some of the current works?
I am working on a rural project for a Secondary School presently and I am also about to start my new series of paintings. It’s a series which will portray the beautiful colours and designs in deep sea animals. I have frequently being studying about several sea creatures. And I found them so interesting and decided to use them to communicate some knowledge to the society. I also want to in-cooperate Arabic calligraphy in these series, with the influence of some friends who are into Arabic calligraphy.
What’s your take on the general assumption that Art works are expensive and out of reach of an average person?
There are Art works that are worth being expensive and totally out of reach of the poor that’s true but those Art works belong to top famous world known artists that have become masters in Art. There are also Art works which are affordable to the reach of everybody in the society so these all depends on the artists. As for me, all my Art works are affordable to the reach of any kind of person in the society especially my paintings that serve as aesthetics to beautify and decorate space but honestly Art works with deep meanings are much more expensive generally.
Mentally, where’s your mind at for the future? Do you intend to open your own big Arts gallery maybe in the next few years, what’s on your mind?
Yes by the grace of God I want to open a gallery, not just any kind of gallery. I want my gallery to have three different sections which are the kids’ corner – where kids can take classes, produce and also display their works whereby the gallery will sell those works and award the price to the kids. The second section will be the crafty restaurant where all kinds of food will be served artistically and crafty. The third part is the main gallery where my works and works of other artists will be displayed.
Aside your Art ventures, do you think there are still any better opportunities for you out there? Would you consider another job at this point in your life?
I want a job in the National Gallery of Arts Nigeria or any other Arts related organization because I want to make maximum contribution of my knowledge to wherever I find myself, rather than trying to fix myself in a field I know nothing about. I want the job in order for me sustain myself and my Art profession because the inability to buy better and a large quantity of Art supplies pulls me down sometimes.
I know you spent a lot of time in your studio sweating it out daily, how do you create time to unwind?
I eat junk and watch cartoons. At my age people always find it childish watching cartoons but it comforts me, it makes me happy and laughs. Sometimes, I treat myself to all the good things I want. Also, I surf the internet for comedy videos and anything that makes me laugh actually.
Where’s your favourite holiday spot?
My favourite holiday spot is my home town, Gashua, in Yobe state and spending time with my grandparents, aunties, cousins and all my dear relatives and all the cute little baby cousins. It’s always my most favourite place. I love being with them so much that I can’t describe the feeling. It takes me far away from Art and the world.
Finally, if your life were a song, what track would it be and why?
Happy by Pharrel Williams because I am always happy, very few things make me sad though sadness comes once in a blue moon. This is because I see positivity in every person, and every situation I might find myself.