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Liberian artist's homecoming to help develop artists

Reporter: Katerina Vittozzi 丨 CCTV.com

05-17-2016 00:27 BJT

In the journey of fulfilment, an artist will often venture abroad in search of some great enlightenment, before returning home in service to his community. So it is for Leslie Lumeh, the renowned painter from Liberia in West Africa.

Leslie Lumeh is Liberia's most celebrated artist. His work has taken him across the world. But now he's home, and inspiring a whole new generation of artists.

Leslie Lumeh is Liberia

Leslie Lumeh is Liberia's most celebrated artist. His work has taken him across the world. But now he's home, and inspiring a whole new generation of artists.

"Even if you don't have your sketch pad, you don't have a pencil, you see the scene, you stand, you observe! You try to look at things, try to be very observant - everything you see, you look at it very carefully, you observe it," Lumeh said.

Since 2010, Lumeh's run this art-school in the capital Monrovia. It provides free lessons for children and young adults.

"There are people who are born with the artistic talent in them. And with that you need to give them room, you have to give them space or the opportunity for them to exercise their God-given talent, because it could be the only thing that could sustain them tomorrow or that they could use to contribute to their various communities, their country, or even perhaps the world," Lumeh said.

The academy is open after-school, three times a week. It's funded by charitable donations. Luther Makehyor has signed on for a year-long class, and says he loves it.

"The interesting thing is whenever I come here, I feel at home. And whenever I am using my brain to think, I think that is a good help for me. I dont feel shy because I come here to learn my own thing," Makehyor said.

Lumeh says of course not all the children here will go on to become professional artists, but the opportunity to explore creative potential should be a right, not a luxury.

Leslie Lumeh (2nd from left) says of course not all the children here will go on to become professional artists, but the opportunity to explore creative potential should be a right, not a luxury.

For the past six years, Liberia's Visual Arts Academy has been giving children who aren't taught art in the school the opportunity to learn. Art isn't on the national curriculum, but the artists and organisers here believe it is just as important to development as learning English or Maths.

"Art is a foundation that can just give you room to explore the world and to explore other disciplines. What if they want to be a journalist? Art is going to be able to help them a lot in being able to ask the questions, it's going to open their minds, it's going to make them be creative, in short. And that's we need in the world. We need creative people. You need creative people, not so much politicians, we need a lot of creative people," Lumeh said.

Lumeh says of course not all the children here will go on to become professional artists, but the opportunity to explore creative potential should be a right, not a luxury.

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