International College recently welcomed Ambassador Ibiyinka Olufemi Alao to its Naples campus for a lecture about his art and his homeland. The Nigeria-born artist was in the region for an exhibition of his paintings. Alao serves as Nigeria’s art ambassador and special envoy on diversity and culture.
International College President, Dr. Terry McMahan, was grateful for the opportunity to have the Ambassador visit with students. “It was a wonderful gesture on Ambassador Alao’s part to lecture our students and show many of his works,” he said. “His visit empowers the College to further our mission of fostering and encouraging cultural diversity.”
Alao's work blends symbolism from Nigerian culture, the Bible and his personal experiences. One of the main features of his art is an expressive use of color, as well as sharp, zig-zag angles. "The patterns represent the ocean waves, the heartbeat of life," said Alao. "Life is colorful, filled with ups and downs, whether we are rich or poor, happy or sad. It is what makes things interesting.”
Alao was trained as an architect at the University Of Ile-Ife Nigeria before turning his attention to painting. His many accomplishments include top honors at the prestigious United Nations International Art Competition, contending among 61 countries. His winning entry "Girls and a Greener Environment" chronicles the life of a child from infancy to adulthood and the values she acquires along the path of life.
Exhibitions of his artistry have been held at many prestigious locations, including the Harvard Business School, the Indianapolis Art Center, the Martin Luther King Art Center, the African Unity Festival, the Nigerian Consulate, the Nigerian Embassy, the United Nations headquarters, the World Bank headquarters and the Empire State Building. His work has taken him around the world, speaking at various engagements, panel discussions, workshops and exhibitions.