Making Art Accessible to Everyone

Last weekend,  the Kenya Museum Society organized another edition of the Affordable Art Show at the National Museum of Kenya grounds in Nairobi. The Affordable Art Show is one of several activities which the Museum Society organizes. The primary mandate of the Kenya Museum Society is to support the museums of Kenya. Besides the art exhibition, there were also kids and adult art classes, guided tours of the gallery exhibitions, and live painting by selected Kenyan visual artists.

Daniel Githua Kamau, Simple Complicated, Acrylic on Canvas
Daniel Githua Kamau, Simple Complicated, Acrylic on Canvas
Paul Otieno, Peaceful Ewaso Nyiro, Acrylic on Canvas, Affordable Art Show | Image: WAKILISHA
Paul Otieno, Peaceful Ewaso Nyiro, Acrylic on Canvas, Affordable Art Show | Image: WAKILISHA

Kenya Museum Society

The Kenya Museum Society is comprised of artists and non-artists alike, individuals like you and me. Membership is available for individuals and organizations and can be renewed yearly.

Gemini Vaghela, Through the Mill, Mixed Media, Affordable Art Show | Image: WAKILISHA
Gemini Vaghela, Through the Mill, Mixed Media, Affordable Art Show | Image: WAKILISHA

For less than Ksh. 2000 annually, you get to experience such unique cultural benefits as free entry to shows like the Affordable Art Show. You also get free access to all museums and many other cultural sites under the management of the Kenya Museums.

Andrew Chege, Caleidoscopic Transformation, Acrylic on Canvas | Image: WAKILISHA
Andrew Chege, Caleidoscopic Transformation, Acrylic on Canvas | Image: WAKILISHA
Andrew Chege, Caleidoscopic Transformation, Acrylic on Canvas Detail Image | Image: WAKILISHA
Andrew Chege, Caleidoscopic Transformation, Acrylic on Canvas Detail Image | Image: WAKILISHA

Check out their website and join. Seriously. You should. The funds raised through activities like the Affordable Art show go a long way in supporting the preservation and promotion of culture and history in Kenya.

Affordable Art Show

At the Affordable Art Show which started on Friday, 28th of October, more than 400 art pieces were being exhibited. The artists were just as many as the artworks. Acrylic paintings of contemporary life in Kenya, hyper-realistic artworks of various wildlife found in Kenya, portraits of Kenyans in various settings, mixed media artworks with social, economic, political, and psychological themes all adorned the halls of the museum building.

Sudi Kukumba, Purity of the Exodus, Acrylic on Canvas | Image: WAKILISHA
Sudi Kukumba, Purity of the Exodus, Acrylic on Canvas | Image: WAKILISHA

Young artists exhibited their art side by side with the old, each showcasing their work to eager art lovers who flocked to the venue; some to catch glimpses of the affordable art, others to enjoy the sun, and others to purchase affordable art and have it adorn their walls at home. The art was affordable indeed, with discerning art buyers leaving with masterpieces for as little as Ksh 6,000. The 3-days long event goes a long way in providing a platform for artists to showcase and exhibit their work. It also provides the space for art collectors to know the artists, buy their art and network for future opportunities.

Importance of Art Being Accessible

The importance of art in society cannot be understated. And if truly art is important then it goes without saying that art should be accessible to everyone, despite what the rules of societal hierarchy or capitalism demand.

In the humdrum of life, it is easy to disregard things that don’t impact our lives directly. Paying rent impacts us directly as does going to work and taking care of sick people. Often, we don’t place the arts and humanities in this category. Art is for enjoying when there is nothing else to do. Music and paintings are to be heard and seen only after the ‘actual work’ is done. So the question becomes, is art even important?

John Kariuki, Nyumbani Collage, Mixed Media on Canvas | Image: WAKILISHA

Art

To compress so large a subject as art into so small a space as a magazine article means we cannot cover any concept exhaustively. This is where I’ll trust you the reader to engage your curiosity when you find yourself facing a new idea or a concept that you feel I may not have done a good job of covering. Or that you feel you would like to delve deeper into.

What is Art?

In the book ‘What is Art?’ Russian writer Leo Tolstoy remarks that “Art is a human activity,”. According to Tolstoy, art does not exist for its own sake but is valuable or objectionable in direct proportion to how serviceable or harmful it is to mankind.
Hannington Gwanzu, Wingu La Moto, Acrylic on Canvas | Image: WAKILISHA
Hannington Gwanzu, Wingu La Moto, Acrylic on Canvas | Image: WAKILISHA
The purpose of art is to transmit to others the feeling the artist has experienced. Such feelings, intentionally re-evoked and successfully transmitted to others, are the subject matter of all art. Using certain external stimuli and signs, movements, lines, colors, sounds, or arrangements of words, an artist infects other people so that they too, share his feelings. In that way, art is a means of union among men, joining them together in the same feelings.
An exhibition of various artists' work at the Affordable Art Show | Image: WAKILISHA
An exhibition of various artists’ work at the Affordable Art Show | Image: WAKILISHA

The unifying truth of the human experience is that a human being, receiving another human’s expression of feeling, whether through sight or hearing is capable of experiencing the emotion that moved the man who expressed it. A man laughs, and another, who hears, becomes merry.

Power of Art

Art holds power over how we feel about certain things. A good film can change the way we see the world. A song can make someone upend their entire life. Poems have been written that have caused the paths of kingdoms and empires to change.
With such power over how the world unfolds, affordable art stops becoming a want and becomes a basic need. A need to envision a better world. To create the kind of future we feel is the best for all living things. Making art affordable is one such way of empowering the imaginations of millions tasked with the duty to create solutions for the problems we face.

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