NAGN keeping artists motivated

By Rosalia David

THE National Arts Gallery of Namibia (NAGN) has actively been engaging new strategies during Covid-19 to keep artists motivated while planning to rebrand in due time.
In an interview with Confidente this week, those who have worked with the institution have highlighted some of the major milestones while expressing gratitude towards the impact NAGN is making on the arts industry.
Stephanie Faul, who works for Featha Grafix, the website designer for NAGN said, since last year, the NAGN has come up with meaningful ways to decrease the impact of the pandemic on the artists.
“I was impressed watching how the NAGN tackled this obstacle. They refused to be put down and held several online exhibitions by the gallery while they were closed; they hosted dialogues and panel discussions on Zoom,” she said.

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Faul added that NAGN has been encouraging artists to visually tell their stories on how Covid-19 affected their work.

She said the idea of artists having to visualise how the pandemic has affected them has been a major highlight as they got to express themselves in a form of art which is a form of therapy.
“This was really a major project for NAGN, being able to show videos and interviews of the artists on Facebook and Instagram.

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And then the Bank Windhoek Triennial was held. Despite many companies slowing down or keeping a low profile, the NAGN was honestly proactive and committed to keep their artists motivated,” she said.
According to Faul, NAGN has for the past 14 months been on the forefront in changing the lives of many while encouraging them to remain driven, courageous and passionate.

On the impact of the institution’s rebranding, she said, this is the right time for them to create a new image and show their true colours -passion, ambitious, commitment and energy- a true partner to every visual Namibian artist.
Michelle Isaak who also worked at NAGN supported Faul’s sentiment on the rebranding saying that it is a great move.
“It is a good idea to rebrand because the industry involves different art forms which is not only limited to visual artists and that is what people think,” she noted.

Isaak further said that working as an intern at the National Arts Gallery of Namibia was an amazing experience as she was able to learn how to do framing and became good at it after that.
“I wish I could have stayed much longer and continue grooming my skills and the gallery helps artists by giving them opportunities to exhibit their arts in groups or solo, helping them to develop their unique style and make a name for themselves.”
For Isaak, working at the NAGN managed to equip her with the skill that is assisting her in making a living.
“As an artist, it helped me learn and grow more in the art industry and it has been nothing but a great experience being part of the group exhibitions and workshops,” she further highlighted.
In November last year, NAGN partnered with 82 artists to create art pieces that were displayed in NAGN galleries and at strategic places in Windhoek, other towns and the gallery’s online exhibition platform.

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The project called #WhatsYourStory, had aimed at preserving the art and encourage the appreciation of local art and crafts, while giving artists the opportunity to reflect on how the coronavirus pandemic affected them.
For the initiative, NAGN provided N$172 377 funding where each participating artist received art material to produce their specific intended art pieces and a top-up to artist’s honorariums.
The National Arts Council of Namibia provided N$150 000 of the amount.
Last year CEO of the NAGN, Snobia Kaputu mentioned in an interview that the once bustling National Arts Gallery and other venues across the country where contemporary exhibitions of local art are displayed, remained empty due to coronavirus restrictions.

She said the aim of #WhatsYourStory was to provide mental health relief to everyone affected by the lockdown while at the same time providing relaxation to art lovers.