A word by the artist
Many peacebuilding and development professionals work from their offices for governments or NGOs. Emerging artist Luka Chohu (also known as Lucho) works out of his own small compound in the community of Angwan Juma’a, Jos, Nigeria. This is a place where people “hustle” from morning till night to provide for their families – a place where art is generally not encouraged as a viable career path. To be sure, this artist does his fair share of hustling. But in between, he finds time to stretch old sheets over hand-made wooden frames to engage in his own form of peacebuilding and development work.
From his small studio, Lucho fuses his artistic talent with his passion for social justice, to communicate the joys and challenges of everyday life in Nigeria; promote peaceful coexistence; and develop the capacities of those around him. His interest in art began in secondary school: “I always had a story to tell. But because I was not good with words or numbers, there was no way for me to tell it.” He therefore began using paint to express his own experiences and feelings. Following secondary school, Lucho moved to the capital to understudy Abuja-based artist, Kelvin Ubani. He then began using his new skills to move his art into broader themes of social justice, inter-identity peacebuilding and the beauty of Nigerian cultures.
The purpose of Lucho’s work is twofold. First, using various media, his own art beautifully and honestly presents the paradoxes, joys and challenges of everyday life in Nigeria. It acts as means for himself and others to step back from the daily “hustle,” make sense of what is, and imagine what could be. In the end, what is produced are pieces with both aesthetic value and the ability to communicate such realities to both local and international audiences. Second, Lucho dreams of also using his talent to increase the creative and communicative capacities of others, particularly children in Jos who cannot access proper education, either because of displacement or poverty. Through volunteer work with local NGOs and schools, he has begun gaining experience in this area creating programs for internally displaced and local children learn how to use art to express and value themselves. Truly, Lucho lives as an artist, a development worker, and a peacebuilder.