Following The Moveee’s coverage ahead of the Ibom International Art and Book Festival, we had spoken to multidisciplinary artist Burns Effiom, one of the three keynote speakers to headline discussions around the festival’s thematic focus on inclusion, representation, diversity, and collaboration. We are delighted to now speak with three of the artists to watch out for in the festival’s curated event lineup.
These three artists create amazing work across mediums, using different elements to explore similar interests. Dinee-laago Zorbari, a Nigerian artist from Rivers, chooses clay as her favourite medium of expression. Chris Isaiah, a Nigerian photographer from Akwa-Ibom employs the camera lens. Namibian Michell Isaak from Windhoek creates multidimensional art, especially using recycled materials to create works of art. Here, they share about their venture into art, and how they’re setting out a niche for themselves as artists.
Please tell us a little about yourself, your background, and how your journey in art began.
Dinee-laago Zorbari: I am a visual artist, facilitator and freelancer. My practice spans ceramics, recycling arts and design. I create shapes between abstraction and figuration and between ideal volume and simplicity using voluptuous, sensual curves with the intrinsic layers of history and politics. I deal with the ceramic sculptural representation of the beauty and aesthetics of forms.
I was born and raised in Bori, Rivers State, Nigeria, into a non-artistically talented family. Influenced by nature, I had the opportunity to experiment with various mediums (pencil, clay, metal and rope). After primary and secondary education, I enrolled in my first sculpting class in 2002. I learned how to work with many different mediums, but I found my way back to clay, the medium with which I can best express myself. By the end of 2014, I left Bori and moved to Abraka in Delta State, where I Obtained B.A. (Hon) in Fine and Applied Arts at Delta State University in 2018.
Chris Isaiah: I am a commercial photographer and visual artist from Akwa Ibom, Nigeria. I’m based in Lagos. Pictures have always intrigued me, but I never thought I’d devote my life to creating them until 2014, when I had a random gist with my friend Kufre Egarevbga. He showed me a photograph by Kelechi Amadi-Obi. By then, I’d never seen anything like that before, and I told my friend that this is what I’ll devote my life to so that I can make people feel the same way when they see my photos. Since then, photography has literally become my life.
Michelle Isaak: I am a young Namibian artist aged 24. I grew up in Windhoek with my mom and six other siblings, a house full of fun and laughter. After high school, I started working and finally started attending to something I realised I am good at – Art. While working, I started attending part-time art classes, and that was when my art career started. I got a full-time diploma course right after. I graduated in 2019 and decided to focus on art full-time.
What is your unique selling point: that is, some important techniques, methods, style, and innovation that make your work unique and different.
Dinee-laago Zorbari: “Shaping the Future of Human/Nature.”
This simply means that I teach young disabled, orphaned, etc., people that by eliminating the hindrances like melancholy, and depression, they can build a fan base, develop skills and build their dreams.
Chris Isaiah: If you randomly ask people I’ve worked with or are familiar with my work, they’ll tell you my photographs aren’t regular and don’t feel like they were captured in this world. There’s a lot of etherealism, fantasy and Afrofuturism that accompany my photos. I usually play around with lighting, colours and the human form.
Michelle Isaak: My technique is something unique in Namibia. The material I use and how I use it is my selling point. Boxes are quite a natural and common material used in our daily lives. A material anyone can easily relate to. This is what I used in my work.
How did you come about your unique selling point, and why did it form an integral part of your work?
Dinee-laago Zorbari: In 2018, during Channel of Love Mission’s 40-day Children and Medical Outreaches. I was asked to teach youths, teenagers and children using my artistic skills to build their skills and dreams. That was where it all began.
Chris Isaiah: My goal from the day I was triggered to pick up a camera has been to make people feel like they’ve never seen anything like that before when they view my photos. So everything I’ve done from that day come together to achieve that goal. I chose light because you can’t create a photograph without colours, and also because of how important they are for storytelling and the human form because it’s such an interesting work of art. So I fuse these three, using a camera, to express myself and tell my story.
Michelle Isaak: During my second year, we had an assignment on mixed media, where we had to use different materials to create a work of art. In my case, I started using newspapers, folding them in strips and coiling them. When I realised how much attention my work got during our end-of-year exhibition. I then took that technique for my final year specialisation, and after college, I developed and grew my technique. Today I work to improve and develop my style more constantly.
What has been your most exciting experience since you began this creative journey? What also would you say is your most unpleasant experience, and how did you handle that?
Dinee-laago Zorbari: My pottery classes are designed to encompass more than just training people on how to create new artworks for their homes. It also includes programs intended to enrich children’s lives, helping boost their self-esteem and improve their motor skills. And also, my first art in health workshop is to alleviate the pain of individuals and improve the overall health outcomes of patients, family and caregivers.
And the most unpleasant experience is when my meeting/workshops are cancelled. I handle this by being sacrificial with all it takes diligently for it to be held. It can be by supporting with resources, finances, suggestions, ideas, etc.
Chris Isaiah: There’s nothing as exciting as bringing an idea you had in mind to live and then having people come to see it, touch it, and feel something while doing so. Seeing your works on large prints and screens is always so fulfilling. You fall in love with your work repeatedly and watch people do the same.
Michelle Isaak: Being a full-time artist constantly looking for opportunities, my most exciting experience is that through art, I got to travel outside my country, which I didn’t think would happen so soon. The most unpleasant experience I have experienced is having a solo and bringing your work back to the studio the same way it left.