#ArtTransforms September 16, 2020

Art is an Act of Faith

By Jonsaba Jabbi

Kanna Anigbogu is a contemporary visual artist based in Toronto. He spoke to us about his art, experience in the Indie Studio Residency program and his art practice is an act of faith rooted in emotional truths. Follow him on Instagram @kannaanigbogu.


I do visual art for the most part, with themes that are usually based on the human experience, community and it also involves the use of symbols or motifs inspired by my Igbo Southeastern Nigerian heritage.

I try to recreate symbols that speak to the human condition, the role of community, moments of culture and sometimes the role of spirituality which includes a lot of line work and a lot of gestural imagery.

I was looking for a space where I could work, where I could as an artist develop my practice outside of my home and also a community where there were other artists too and a place that could nurture emerging artists like myself.

For someone like me who wasn’t very secure in my practice yet, I needed a place to be able to just hold all of that. A friend of mine, Alia [Ettienne], mentioned SKETCH and told me about this thing called Indie Studio where you can decide for yourself what your practice is and develop in that way. So I decided to apply and I got in.

I don’t usually have a particular idea set yet when starting the creative process. I’m also a very analytical and creative person, so to get past  that I need to start with a line.  It’s a process of faith to be honest because if I go full-on and think this is what I want to do, it’s not going to get done. So I usually have to start with the line and keep going.

I start off with a line and continue that process. Then during the process of using that one line, I get a feel for what should go above the line or what else to incorporate, either a dot, stripes, gestures or colour. Sometimes the linework isn’t in the final piece.

I never really know what to start out with, its never really clear but I just start with the line to get past that mental block and keep going. Eventually, the rest unfolds as the piece develops.



I also find that the environment affects the kind of work that I produce. For example, if a place has too many people, it affects the kind of work I produce in different ways, depending on who’s around me. So it’s important for me to put myself in a controlled setting with minimum stimulation, or a mental state in terms of listening to one continuous sound or complete silence. It actually helps my process and creates the best conditions for me to do work.

I’m always very surprised at how the pieces turned out because like I said it’s an act of faith, I’m never really content with what I think I’m going to do and that stresses me out, but once I start with the line, I keep going.


Usually, I’m inspired by feelings, ambience and emotional truth. A lot of the things guiding our day-to-day are ultimately are based on emotions. Emotional truths are that space where you’re fighting between honouring traditions while understanding your particular emotional vulnerabilities and nuances and being willing to choose what works. So just those little moments where someone listens to a particular song and doesn’t even know why it affects them but it does is one example of an emotional truth.

Being able to experience other people’s art is a way to see how someone tries to translate their own experience of emotional truths in their art.  I see what they’re trying to say with their art, I feel it, and it creates room to speak about those experiences we may not always vocalize.

There are a few artists who can capture those emotional truths who I really admire, whether with visual composition or abstract work. Some examples are Pascal Campion and an artist from Nigeria named Victor Ekpuk. He uses symbolism but the way he uses it, it’s almost playful, inventive, very raw and honest and I like that.

I hope my art does that eventually when I’m able to actually capture those moments either from an abstract or from an actual literal perspective.

Art has helped me navigate depression and there were moments where the depression and anxiety made me ineffective. So, to be able to do the art and watch myself go through and express or at least ease off some of the pressure within me has helped. It also teaches me to  trust myself and to have faith in the process. And in everything else. My life is a line. Everyone’s life is a line. The curvier, the more interesting I hope.

Art has given me a platform to express myself, for when words aren’t right or enough I don’t have the right words.

SKETCH COMMUNITY UPDATE (as of August 14, 2020)

Thanks to all who participated in Creating Against the Odds! Our online experiments offered May, June and July. Thanks to everyone who made those experiments during these challenging times.

SKETCH studios at 180 Shaw Street will remain closed to public access until further notice. We are forced in this time of pandemic to rework and consider our sustainability given public health priorities and resources. We will keep you posted on new designs in September.

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We've launched our Equity at SKETCH Web page to be in dialogue with you about our Equity goals.

Black activists and communities everywhere are working hard to lead all society to call out and authentically address the violent impacts of White Supremacy in policing, justice, education, health, community and in all systems and infrastructures across Turtle Island (North America). Anti-Black racism is deeply embedded in every fabric of our society. This, as well as our violent colonial legacy of Indigenous erasure, constant gender discrimination and violence, and the violence and mistreatment of those in the disability community, are pervasive pressing truths that we need to face and address, daily, to make change in real ways. We need boldness, energy, honesty, deep listening and accountability, to generate sustained action and inversions of power in the immediate, medium and long term.

What can a community-engaged arts organization in Toronto like us do, to take up its role in this critical renaissance of justice? Join us in learning together with us, what this means.

SKETCH is deeply committed to supporting, learning from and amplifying the brave and creative leadership of young Black Artists and Activists. Check out Art in Pandemic and be inspired by the incredible work of young artists creating during this time.

We call on the Arts Councils to create a Black Artists Fund to support Black Artists and Black Arts and Culture Organizations, recognizing and investing in their leadership in arts and culture, and in building fair and inclusive communities.

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Please support us to be a just, accountable and vibrant arts platform for young people on the margins! We need your help now more than ever!

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Dear Friends and Investors,

Greetings from the SKETCH Project Home Team! We hope that you and your family are keeping well and safe during this time.

UPDATE: SKETCH is placing the capital campaign to purchase our studios on brief hiatus until the fall.

Our campaign has been a great success so far, with over $370,000 raised in funds and Community Bonds! However, in face of the COVID-19 pandemic, SKETCH is taking action to suspend the campaign to allow the time needed for those excited about our campaign to be in a more secure position to participate.

If you have already donated to the campaign, or purchased SKETCH Community Bonds, we deeply appreciate your commitment to Project Home. If you've just recently submitted your bond-purchase documents, we will still process your investment.

Have any questions about your donations or bond purchase? Please do not hesitate to contact SKETCH Executive Director, Rudy Ruttimann at rudy@sketch.ca.

This summer, we'll be working with our campaign partners and SKETCH community to determine exactly when we relaunch in the Fall. We'll be sure to keep you posted over the summer.

You can still inquire about SKETCH, our capital campaign, and its progress at invest@sketch.ca or by following us at @SKETCHToronto.

Thank you for your time, and we wish all the best for you and your family.

-The SKETCH Team & Campaign Advisory