Liberian Artists Lament Lack of Local Patronage

Chargè d’Affaires of the Chinese Embassy, Li Zhuang, and ULA president, Yoryor, perform a symbolic turnover

As Chinese Embassy donates supplies worth US$10K

“We are confronted by a number of challenges including lack of art centers, machines, micro-loans and failure of Liberians to appreciate their own local carvings; and these make our occupation to be of no value,” Ndorbor Yoryor, president of the Union of Liberian Artists (ULA) lamented as the Chinese Embassy near Monrovia presented the union with art materials worth US$10,000 on August 13.

The donated supplies comprised pigments, canvases, brushes and other auxiliary materials, which the ULA president said will have a long term positive impact on members of the union. The materials, said Yoryor, are very expensive to procure in Liberia, which adversely affects the prices of carvings put on the market by Liberian artists.

Li Zhuang, Chargé d’Affaires of the Chinese Embassy, said the donated materials are meant to aid the artists to create more impressive and attractive works of art.

Some of the carvings on display at the Chinese Embassy on Sunday

There were carvings of humans, animals, vegetation, utensils, agricultural implements and industrial materials depicting Liberian culture displayed at the  ceremony. Li, in this regard, said, “We have different definitions or expressions of culture, but we are the same in terms of yearnings for and the pursuit of wonderful things.

The Chinese oil paintings and wood carvings may differ from the Liberian ones, but both present the beauty and love of nature.” Li said China and Africa have a long history and splendid civilizations, and the large scale of the China-Africa cooperation highlights the exchanges and dialogue between the two civilizations.

The National Museum in Monrovia does not have enough artifacts that could give tourists a sense of Liberian culture and civilization. Previous visits there have shown that only an army boot reportedly worn by former rebel fighter and current Nimba County Senator Prince Y. Johnson, a few carvings depicting masked dancers and images of past presidents are preserved there.

The poor condition of the National Museum, Yoryor said, is a result of the failure of the Liberian Government to prioritize Liberian carvings by buying them as museum pieces. He said people who buy their carvings are mostly foreign visitors. Mr. Yoryor indicated that only a few Liberians buy local artworks, and mainly do so as gifts to foreigners. He said sometimes retired public officials are presented with Liberian sculptures and other carvings.

He said the ULA have embarked on a project aimed at building a US$50,000 center where art materials will be stored, with parts of the building used as offices for the union.


  1. Instead of lamenting lack of local patronage, why can’t they create (and sell) products people ACTUALLY want to buy”?? Like any business, your business needs to serve the NEEDS of your audience and customers if it’s going to survive!

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