#ArtTransforms September 14, 2020

Art is Dancing with Ghosts and Fire

By Jonsaba Jabbi

Dre Nnamdi  is a Nigerian born, self-taught Fine Artist with a primary focus in Fine Art Photography, Visual Art and Experimental Video. Currently residing in Toronto, his practice includes a wide range of materials and ideas. Some of his interests may include topics about Spirituality, Symbolism and Realism, specifically Nigerian Culture and Spirituality, Love Note and Lucid Dreaming. Depending on the subject matter for each body of work, the material of choice may vary from installations, acrylic photo prints, oil and acrylic painting, charcoal drawing, sculpting, and experimental video.

He spoke to us about his creative process and why his family is one of his biggest inspirations. Follow more of his work on Instagram @nnamdiano_photo.

“Double Exposure,” one of Nnamdi’s limited edition prints

I describe my art practice as multi-disciplinary in the sense that it focuses on photography, film, videography, ceramics molding, drawing and painting. I tend to mix or play around with these mediums depending on how I feel and what the story is about.

I heard about SKETCH and Indie Studio through my sister Amanda Anozie who was a part of the program last year. I’ve been working corporate for the last four years and quit last year. Doing so created a new craving for me to do something that I haven’t done in a while, which was to create art for my self and my sister did a great job by pushing me into getting started with SKETCH. I really appreciated the fact that she pushed into it because now I see how much I really needed something like this.

My creative process could be through dreams, through events that have happened in my life or through an experience that I’m feeling right now, so if I was in a breakup situation I would create art based on that or create according to how I was feeling in the moment and begin identify the medium I want to work with that would translate the idea and evokes emotion into the art piece, through texture, colour, mood and so on.

One piece of art I’m particularly proud of is called Dancing with Ghosts and Fire, which signaled a spiritual awakening for my art about a year and a half ago. I was being drained by the repetition within the corporate world, my creativity was failing me and I thought to myself, “Am I still creative as I thought I was?”

The piece “Dancing with Ghosts and Fire”

So I was at a bonfire, in my zone while my friends were playing around and I just wanted something to speak to me in that moment.  I think that was where I got a message as my eyes were closed and something was like just wake up and take the shot while everyone is dancing with the fire around them. When I opened my eyes, I felt the spirts as they danced in synchronicity with us around this fire pit, so that’s when I took the shot on my camera and it came as seen on my website.

Indie Studio has been a very positive experience for me. I feel like this was the window of opportunity that I’ve been looking for because coming here as an immigrant, you don’t have access to a lot of things and your also coming from a place that lacks community services like this that help folks living below average means. So a lot of things that I have been doing has been out of pocket or out of my own accessibility. Indie Studio has been that gateway for me to have a space to work out of and materials that I can use without having to spend so much money, so it’s been a blessing.

Nnamdi working on a piece during our Winter Indie Studio Residency

Family is a big thing for me. I have siblings who are pretty much creative and my dad is one of those people who as an African parent, a lot of times they’re not really in tune with art but my dad has really shown interest in the arts that he’s always talking about things that inspire us so he tells us about stories and he tells us about poetry and certain things that we as his children interpret it into art so we are all inspiring each other in that way so he inspires us and we take things from his stories and create it.

We’re also inspired by his work ethic, his love for people and he just has a really big heart and I think that’s where I get a lot of my feeling which I think transcends into my art. There are also some good photographers and creatives I look up to in the industry that really help me and inspire me through the arts. 

Art has transformed my life in the sense that I have found a deeper meaning within myself of who I am and how I choose to express whatever emotion I am feeling and how other people can interpret my artwork.

My art really helped me with soul-searching and slowing down. Slowing down is a big thing because in the corporate world, we’re always multitasking, we have to work on these different projects and you just don’t have that time to sit down, think creatively and really just be in that moment. It really helps me to pause, take time and align with everything I am doing and feeling instead of rushing it.