About the Learning Lab – During this Learning Lab Artist in Residence, Uchay Joel Chima has been leading the youth of MCNC at Lake Middle through a series of exercises building their artistic eye, hand and developing the courage to express themselves through the creative process. Chima started with simple mark making including scribbles challenging the youth to, “draw a line long enough to go to New York and back”. Next he introduced youth to his concepts and materials utilizing paper, and string to build compositions on canvas. This blend of formal technique and exploration of materials comes together to make up the youths work.
About Mi Casa Neighborhood Center at Lake Middle School – On the Lake Middle School Campus, Mi Casa offers comprehensive afterschool, evening and summer enrichment programming for youth and their families. By keeping the school doors open well beyond the traditional school day, Mi Casa addresses a wide range of needs among the community.
About the Artist – Uchay Joel Chima is a Nigerian artist who incorporates a variety of materials and processes to express the larger social and environmental issues and realities around us. Since graduating from the Art School of the Institute of Management and Technology, Enugu, Nigeria, Chima’s artwork has continued to evolve, remaining relevant to developments in contemporary art, weaving a tapestry of memory, imagination, societal happenings and emotion. Chima combines various found objects, including strings, sand, wax, with paint and other mediums, employing a mixture of conventional and unconventional approaches in his unceasing explorations. In his body of work, “The Village was Burnt Down”, he used chunks of charcoal to depict the atrocities carried out by the Boko Haram sect in Northern Nigeria. In the past few years, many houses have been burnt down and in some cases villages have been reduced to ashes, rendering the people homeless. Here the by-products of the atrocities were used as a creative medium. Telling this stories with chunks of charcoal and sometimes with pieces of old newspapers enables me to document issues in such an abstract way, yet pointing at the realities around us.