Abimbola (Abby) came to Canada from Nigeria and on the face of it she is a young Mom coping with the joy's and challenges of everyday life, but Abby has a secret weapon, her art! In her own words: “My art is an expression of the beauty I experience around me. It is an avenue for me to share this experience with you.” Abby also has a big heart for the downtrodden in the world and wants to use her gift as an artist to benefit others in practical ways.
We sat down with Abby recently to learn about how she is using her art to make an impact.
David: Tell us a bit about yourself Abby. Anything that comes to mind. Where you’re from? What you do? How you got here?
Abby: I was born and raised in Nigeria in the capital city of Abuja—long time ago, but not too long. I moved to Canada about 15 years ago to pursue a university education at the University of Saskatchewan. I’ve lived here ever since. Right now, I am a nurse and an artist.
David: What did you study at university?
Abby: I studied microbiology and biotechnology as a first degree, and then nursing. I’m a registered nurse. I have a passion for learning and empowering others to grow personally. I felt like my faith in God drives my passion. I’m married and I have three beautiful children.
David: And two are twins I believe?
Abby: Yes, twins. A two-year-old and nine-month-old twins.
David: Wonderful! So how did you get started as an artist?
Abby: My interest in art started in high school. I always enjoyed drawing animals, pictures of animals in pencil. Our biology teacher, he asked us to draw animals in different stages. I found it quite fascinating and the other kids in class would ask me to draw for them. When I came to Canada, I met Lorette Brown through the International Friendship Program at the university. She encouraged me to explore other forms of art and use other mediums and done a lot of work with pastel and some acrylic - I moved on into more acrylic. A lot of my inspiration to grow as an artist came from Lorette.
David: Wow. How did you decide to use art to create change?
Abby: I believe that I’ve been given much and one way I can give back is by using my art to serve others. I believe that my art is to be shared with other people. It’s personalized my way to express the beauty that I see in nature and to my silhouettes - I send messages that help to encourage people. That’s something I enjoy doing.
David: How did you learn about IJM?
Abby: I learned about IJM from Lorette Brown.
David: What was the moment she introduced you to IJM? Did she just tell you about it? Or was it something you saw that she was doing?
Abby: She invited me to one of her art shows and then she explained to me how she raised money to support IJM and to fight human trafficking. She caught my attention.
David: Tell us about your personal justice journey. Why are you passionate about issues of injustice?
Abby: As early as I can remember, anytime I hear of a situation of human trafficking or violence, I just feel very saddened and hurt by that because I feel no one should be treated without dignity or value. We are all created in the image of God. I think God has given me compassion to help people in this respect and my art is one way I can do that. We complain sometimes of what’s going on around the world but the question we should ask ourselves is, “What can we do about it?” Because we can all do something.
David: What’s your greater vision for the world?
Abby: My greater vision for the world is a world where people will work in value and dignity that God has created them with. A world where people would flourish in their God given gifts and person. Talking about changing the world might be insurmountable or sound impossible but when you empower and encourage one person at a time to change and grow and they walk in value, this is a ripple effect.
David: What’s coming up next for you and your artwork?
Abby: For me, my time is an ongoing journey and I’m really excited about new opportunities that God’s been bringing my way. I’m excited about expansion and trying other avenues to share my art like making cards. That’s something coming pretty soon.
David: Where can someone purchase one of your artworks?
Abby: My artwork can be purchased directly from Instagram by contacting me through Instagram. Or through one of my art shows which I’ll post on Instagram.
David: What’s your Instagram name?
Abby: My Instagram name is art_to_inspire_abbysartworld
David: What do you believe is the connection between art and justice?
Abby: I believe art is an expression of your person and who you are, and justice supports people to be free and be who they are by freeing them from bondage. I feel that art can also be used to express stories of justice.
David: Wonderful! What is the number one tip or piece of advice you would give someone who wants to use their own challenge to create change?
Abby: I would say, start where you are. Start with what you have and use that to bless people. It might be - if you are an artist designing a card, a thank you card to give to someone or giving someone the gift of a painting - just start where you are and believe big and connect with people who are like minded.
David: What was your favourite toy as a child and why?
Abby: I think it was a doll. My earliest memory of toys was a doll. A plastic doll my dad bought me from a trip. My brothers broke it apart. I couldn’t find the parts! Every time my dad travelled, I would ask him to get me one.
David: Did your doll have a name?
Abby: No, I don’t remember. I don’t think I gave her a name.
David: What is your favourite stress-relieving activity other than painting?
Abby: Holding my babies. Playing with them. Look at their faces.
David: Who has had the biggest impact on the person you’ve become?
Abby: I believe God has. My relationship with God. Knowing him and just walking with him has helped me change and grow and see people and things from a perspective of love.
David: And if you had to say a person?
Abby: The most significant people in my life right now? I would say my dad because he exemplified giving for me and he’s supported my education throughout university. My mom because she lived an example of her faith. And even Lorette Brown because she inspired me so much to live a life that’s given, a life that’s Christ-like, and she inspired me to grow and embrace learning.
Abby would like to increase the income from her art to the work of IJM around the world. If you would be willing to donate to match fund Abby’s art sales and generate more support to protect the poor from violence then please contact David Pollendine at firstname.lastname@example.org or 431 777 6057 OR when you give a donation to IJM simply add the note Abby’s Art.