Ifeoma U. Anyaeji examines the idea of value and worth while addressing environmental concerns based upon mass consumption and waste through sculptures, reliefs and installations. This artist uses discarded bottles, plastic bags and found objects within numerous craft processes in unconventional ways. Her artwork is influenced by West African culture including Nigerian folklore, music, fashion, poetry, and her country’s colonial history. Her sculptures use non-biodegradable plastic, wood, wire, mesh, plastic containers and cans she has sourced herself locally. Using her own method of Plasto-art Anyaej binds the plastic with thread into woven braids. This threading or Ikpa Owu represents a more natural traditional hair craft which is now seldomly used in preference to chemical use.
These plastic braids are shaped and layered into densely textural sculptural forms which encapsulate vibrant colours, spirals, coils, circles and loops. I was immediately drawn to the use of waste to create these larger-scale sculptural forms, to make something beautiful that has something to say about our environment and material reuse. References have also been made to the human body, architecture and domestic spaces. This idea that the sculptural forms are never complete was interesting as the pieces are often adapted, re-edited and reworked so they are always in process and changeable as plastic was donated during the exhibition which was used to add to the exhibition.
Ifeoma U. Anyaeji stated that art is a limitless expressive tool of freewill. Therefore, its visual thoughts can serve to remind us that the limitation of one’s imagination is a limitation to one’s growth. And art devoid of optimistic imagination is art with limitations. As an artist, I have always had an interest in producing artworks that communicate with and integrate elements of and from my environment. This manifests in my choice of medium and style of rendition. My work is about the transitions of culture, the concept of recycling and material reuse, as a review of our cultural attitude to the ideology of product newness, value and the expiration date.
This artist has drawn upon cultural influences and environmental concerns holistically which has influenced my own relationship to and with the context in which I work creatively…of my own family relationship with and to the sea coupled with my continuing focus on nature and the environment, of shining a light on reuse and minimising waste. There has been increased reflection upon my own cultural identity, of my values and belief system and where they are sited within societal norms. I have been investigating and experimenting with more non- conventional materials within my creative practice within the arena of repurposing materials.