Liberia’s internationally acclaimed visual artist Leslie Lumeh has been named one of the finalists for the Africa Center Artist in Residency (AIR) Award.
The organization said in a statement that this year they received a record 423 completed applications from different genres from 40 countries across the continent.
“This marked a giant leap from last year’s pool of applications and the majority of the applications received came from South Africa,Nigeria, Kenya and Zimbabwe, as well as from new locations including Algeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Madagascar, Rwanda and Sudan to name a few,” Africa Center said in a statement.
“The quality of submissions and the caliber of artists that applied were also exceptional with many applications from the more senior artists,” the organization added.
The statement also said a panel of prominent and seasoned academics, authors, curators, art historians and art critics based in and out of the continent assisted in compiling this initial shortlist of artists.
The statement noted after a rigorous selection process from a panel of experts, the Africa Center team is proud to present its shortlist of 68 of the continent’s most provocative, innovative and socially engaged artists to be considered for 15 residency opportunities available through partnerships.
“Crafting this list was an exciting journey through the ambitions and aspirations of some of the continent’s greatest art practitioners. It has been exciting to see the level of art that is being produced on the continent and the continued commitment of artists to further their practice and make a significant mark on their communities both locally and internationally,” the statement further said.
For his part Lumeh, who is in the largest category comprise of 24 artists, and is also the executive director of Liberia Visual Art Institute (LiVArts), said “I am proud to be one of the 68 finalist selected from over 400 artists living and working on the African continent.”
“I remain grateful to the judges and the organization for this window of opportunity for African artists like myself who have never been to any formal school of art. But all of this should be a wake up call for our national leaders giving Liberian artists their due respect.”
He also said that while it is the fact that artists cannot perform a miracle to literally improve the economy, artists can, however, advance proposals that if heeded can make a great impact.
Since 2011, the AIR program has provided artists across disciplines such as visual arts; literary arts; performing arts; music and film with the opportunity to participate in residency programs throughout the world. This is a direct response to the challenges many African artists confront related to both getting accepted and funding residency costs.