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I want to project African aesthetics, revive Nsibidi through arts —Okafor

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Driven by desire to revive the ancient Nsịbịdị means of communication and to project African fashion aesthetics, Arinze Okafor, a Lagos-based artist and designer, decided to infuse the Nsịbịdị design in his recent eyewear art, Awele Collection.

The collection, which is off his Nnekata (the never ending stare), the stained eyewear arts, enthralls the onlooker and masterfully projects the Nsịbịdị, a traditional symbol that is commonly associated with the people of southeastern Nigeria and holds significant cultural and artistic value in the region.

At the last conducted creative showcase programme by the British Council Lagos, the Nsịbịdị-inspired stained eyewear, though one of the smallest exhibits was the most receptive as people wanted to experience the stained eyewear, especially to satisfy their curiosity if they could see through the lenses.

In an interview with Nigerian Tribune, Okafor said the collection is “a shift from the norm when it comes to eyewear fashion. At some point I started to feel that eyewear does have different avant garde frames with no attention to the lenses, or maybe the few modifications in terms of edges and corners yet no visible thing done on the surface of the lenses.

“As I have been studying Nsịbịdị for quite a while now and the inspiration to inscribe Nsịbịdị was only natural to do. I have to revive the ancient form of communication through my work.

“I am hoping that Nnekata the stained eyewear will be the shift in eyewear fashion as it is projecting African aesthetics through Nsịbịdị symbols; where people will be wearing their identity, heritage and culture without having to say where they are from.”

He added that the collection has received widespread attention and patronage, and hopes for collaborations in order to scale up the collection.

Okafor said, “So far the reception has been positive as people get confused initially and doubt if they could see, but on wearing the eyewear the wearer becomes amazed that the vision is perfectly intact.”

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