LAST week at Waterworth Gallery, Lekki, Lagos, Ms Stacey Okparavero flagged off one week memorial exhibition in commemoration of the death of her sister, Ms Ogaga Okapaevero, who died of asthma in October last year. The exhibition tagged; Art Exhibition for Life: An Asthma Awareness/ Charity Art Exhibition was put up to raise fund for the assistance of asthma patients, who cannot afford their treatments in hospitals.
In this interview, the young and enigmatic artist spoke to Vanguard's art about her whole vision surrounding the project. She also spoke about herself and her influence. Excerpt:
WHAT informed this charity exhibition for the promotion of asthma awareness?
This charity exhibition is in memory of the death of my younger sister, who died from asthmatic complication in October last year. So, it is an asthma awareness exhibition in her memory. And there is a doctor on board to speak to the audience about the sickness and how they can manage it.
Our intention is to use the proceeds from this exhibition to fund the respiratory unit of a local public hospital in Lagos and also to help the hospitals procure oxygen canisters and other relevant drugs and as well help in the settlement of bills of patients in the units who cannot afford to buy drugs or pay their bills.
Have you always been painting?
Yes, I have been painting. That is what I studied in School.
Are all these paintings done for this particular exhibition?
Well, most of the works are very recent and are painted in the spirit of this commemoration.
One notices in these works that your imagination takes on a number of other existential issues outside the very campaign theme for which the exhibition is put out for. How can you explain this ?
Yes, your observation is very right. The truth is that I am a very versatile painter. I like to explore different types of paintings, as well as themes. I hate restricting myself to a medium or theme. It doesn't allow my imagination and creativity to grow. Also, by exploring different themes and media help more people to relate with my works.
But speaking strictly, what media would you say appeal to you most?
I love working with water colour and pastel. I also work with oil and acrylic and any other media. But my preference is water colour.
Who are your influences?
My immediate influence is Pa Professor Bruce Onabrakpeya. He is an art veteran and my mentor. The other person is Picasso and Bolarin Oba, who was around when I went for my industrial training and helped in mentoring me.
Pa Bruce is known more for his print making techniques. At what point of convergence do you see his technique influencing your style ?
I see a convergence in the themes we pursue in our visual compositions.
Is it in the exploration of the natural environment, the traditional settings?
Especially, in our thematic interest in nature.
So, how many works are being exhibited?
About fifty works.
Are all the works done in water colours?
Not all. Some of them in oil, acrylic, water colour, pastel and some in mixed media.
How long is the exhibition going to last?
It will show for eight days.
Asthma is a major health issue. And with this exhibition, you have inaugurated a beautiful campaign of awareness. How do you intend to sustain this campaign after this show?
We are going to use social media to continue to preach about the awareness. We are going to also put up videos in Youtube.
Sensitisation of the public
We are also going to begin to sensitise the public by visiting schools with enlightenment programmes on asthma. We are also going to start an art foundation in the name of my sister that can cater for the plight of asthma patients for free.
Your bio reveals that you also have interest in Music?
Yes of course.
So, do plan using music as one of your media for this campaign?
Well. Not quite. Though personally, I have written quite a couple of songs, but that will be a later project.
Do you see some of your songs encoded in your paintings?
Yes. These works are about my music, painting and poetry.