Stephen Okonmah spent his childhood and teenage years in the United Kingdom and West Africa. Through those formative experiences, as well as his extensive world travels, Stephen cultivated an unending love of art. He took that passion on the road, curating exhibitions in Europe with a pool of emerging West African artists. He realized, however, that while there are many gifted artists in West Africa, creativity is still greatly hindered. The summer art camps and after school art classes he enjoyed as a child are nonexistent today. For that reason, ArtWest was created. Its role is to raise the artistic bar in West Africa while introducing the world to a new class of extraordinary artists. “West Africa doesn’t lack artistic talent, but is in need of quality art educational facilities for children and youth. Being in the African art industry for over twenty years, I am thrilled to be a part of nurturing and educating talented young people,” says Okonmah.
Rosemary Ugboajah always wanted to express herself creatively but didn’t always have the opportunity to do so. She attended boarding high school in Nigeria and was directed towards the sciences. Despite her aptitude for this right-brained field, she still had the desire to try her hand at art. But, she was continually discouraged by the school’s faculty who saw endeavors in art as an occupational dead end. Determined to follow her desire, she took up art after graduating and hasn’t looked back since. She persevered, earning a fine arts and graphic design diploma in London, England and a bachelor’s of arts degree in advertising in Minnesota, USA. Today, Rosemary owns a brand development agency which combines strategy and creativity to build inclusive brands. She passionately believes, “all people should be given the opportunity to fulfill their creative desires. I am hopeful that ArtWest will make this a reality for youth across West Africa”.