“Art is beautiful and it’s in everything we do. It has the potential to reach out to a person’s soul and stir their inner emotions.” These are the words of Charles and Clinton members of the Nyota Art Gallery.
Located in Kibra informal settlements, Nyota art studio seeks to raise stars and super heroes within the slum area to make a difference in the community. The studio voluntarily incorporates children interested in art to learn the skill while providing a platform for self-made artists within Kibra to work on their art and to exhibit it too. Furthermore their art work serves to sensitize members of the community through murals and wall art in sensitive matters such as health and well-being for individuals in the community.
The studio started late 2018 in the heart of Kibra. The founders saw a niche in the artistic potential of children who came from needy homes in the area. “We saw a need to provide a platform for that. Fortunately, many parents in this generation are more willing to nurture their children’s non-academic skills,” says Charles.
With a platform as such artist are able to monetize their skills through sale of their art work in the gallery and also on the galleries face book and twitter handles. The price of each art piece is quoted by individual artist and different people and institution take part in buying their work. But from each individual sale a certain share goes back to the gallery. While for the kid’s art, 10% of the total sale is kept by the gallery as the rest is allocated to the parents after the sale.
Apart from basic art there are different projects that are run in the gallery including the Super heroes of Kibra project and Jikinge project.
“The superheroes of Kibra project was mainly targeting kids with talent who wanted to become like the superhero characters they see on the televisions, through generating their own characters that would bring a difference in their community. On the other hand Jikinge project was all about sensitizing members of the society to wear mask sanitize and keep safe from Corona Virus through murals”, says Clinton Odhiambo one of the founders and a visual artist in the studio.
An additional project they were involved in had to do with people who abused drugs. The project was in partnership with other organizations to find different solutions to help the drug abusers find their place in the society.
“The project was more therapeutic in that we were addressing people who were using drugs; encouraging them to find means of generating income and slowly cut on their intake of drugs. In doing so, they will fully utilize the skills they have and make a living, “adds Clinton.
The gallery, however, has been facing a number of challenges with which they still struggle with up to now such as limited space. “Due to limited space we don’t just let anyone enrolled in the studio. For an entry one must exhibit passion in doing art through showcasing their sketch book whereby the studio will analyze their art and determine if they fit in,” says Clinton, adding that the organization struggles with inadequate finances to run their daily operations.
He says: “When we started we funded ourselves to run the projects and with time we got aid from well-wishers and donors who saw the visions we had but again after corona virus outbreak, the aid stopped and we returned to using our own resources to run the gallery,” says Charles. This forced the group to temporarily stop some projects like superheroes of Kibra.
But all is not lost as they keep continuing to do what they can to reach their goal their students seem more equipped in the sessions taught and are more enthusiastic about art. “Art for me is fun and beautiful and coming here has enabled me to fully enjoy it as its everywhere,” says Randy Skeet, 12, a student at the gallery.
“There are two ways one can be an artist. It’s either in you or you have to learn the skill but neither way will work if the passion is not there,” says Brandon David, 13, also a student. Both students are aspiring artists and they believe the gallery offers them the right opportunity to nurture their skill.