Kunle Adewale is a global multidisciplinary artist with scholarships in painting and art history, arts in health for helping professionals, mental health and Psychology.
He has certifications in effective fundraising and leadership in arts and culture, arts in medicine and arts in health research intensive, as well as understanding arts and dementia from different universities across the world.
An impresario with over a decade experience in arts and education, he founded Tender Arts Nigeria in 2013, a social enterprise and non-profit organisation, which aims to positively impact children, youth and adults, with a focus on therapeutic arts, art education, talent development, community development and civic engagement.
The projects he has facilitated in the past and present range from therapeutic art projects for displaced families suffering from post-traumatic stress disorders, to children and adults living with cancer, sickle cell anemia, dementia, mental illnesses, HIV and Aids, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, autism and other neurological disorders.
Recently, he extended his art education to a two-day event organised in his honour to commemorate his recognition by the Mayor of Cincinnati, United States, Mayor John Cranley in 2019. The event was a celebration of Kunle’s altruistic involvement and monumental utilisation
of art as a therapeutic medium in clinical and non-clinical settings within the US and his country of birth, Nigeria.
Adewale, on this occasion said in a statement made available to arts journalists , “This is not the celebration of a celebrity, it is the celebration of our shared humanity.”
Described as a befitting honour for the artist, he and his organisation’s projects was said to have reached over 15,000 beneficiaries across the globe, resulting in a robust health system.
He explained, “The first day of the event involved an artistically vibrant and intellectually charged run of events with speeches from speakers across four continents.
“Director of the Center for the Arts in Medicine at the University of Florida (UF), USA, Jill Sonke, presented a most stirring introduction to the event, drawing the correlation between the prevalent issues of the Corona Virus and Systemic Racism as both Public health crises. Sonke recalled notable artists using art for social justice. She echoed the public health system’s need for artists to make the dire required changes.
“This was followed by a panel session moderated by Wemimo Onikan. It featured crucial stakeholders in the art sphere worldwide and included: Ken Nwadiogbu, a renowned Nigerian hyperrealism contemporary artist and social activist, Brian “B Flow” Bwembya, the founder of Music for Change, a performing artist and Social activist; Annie Ruth, the founder, Eye of the Artists Foundation; and Paul Modjadji, a performing Artist and Founder, Breaking down Borders Africa Initiative. They all deliberated on and gave succinct and inspirational takes on the theme “Artists as Drivers of Social Change,” Adewale narrated.
The programme was anchored by the trio of Alexandria Maloney, a 2018 Forbes under 30 Scholar; Tiffany Yu, the CEO and Founder, Diversibility, Podcast Host, TIFFANY and YU; and Wemimo Onikan, a communications specialist. There were equally guest performances by sonorously gifted Sinmidele Ayodele and Grace Jerry and a thrilling dance session by Magda Kaczmarska.
“In line with the drive to mitigate the rising scourge of Alzheimer’s disease in Nigeria, there was a verve, termed “Support a Cause”, to seek funds for the establishment of an Arts in Health Hub in Nigeria, which was anchored by Olumide Kola-Lawal, a World Bank Public Sector Consultant,” he inferred.
The second day of the event took place online from San Francisco, United States and had Adebola Williams, Co-founder, and CEO, RED for Africa profiled as a man who helped elect a trifecta of presidents in Africa. Adewale quoted Williams as saying that “Art is one of the most potent platforms to rebuild our world.”
It was gathered that Grace Jerry, one of the guest artistes whose works reach out to millions of people with disabilities, sang a song of hope for the COVID-19 crisis, while Sinmidele Ayodeji, an Arts in Medicine fellow, serenaded the participants. “Madga Karcmarska, a dance and movement artiste choreographed a participatory dance session,” he added.
According to him, scholars from all around the globe were present. While Plot Mhako talked about the Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI) and its application process, Fisayo Aransiola-Fakayode, Human Rights lawyer and Chevening scholar enlisted guidelines to obtain international opportunities. “Camellia Rodriguez-Sackbyrne and Thongdam Pathoumthong from the Global Brain Health Institute, Atlantic Fellows for Equity in Brain Health team were there to search for change makers in healthy aging and brain development.
“The institute is dedicated to protecting the world’s population from threats to brain health and reducing the impact of dementia worldwide. Dominic Campbell, co-founder of creative aging international, lent his voice to this call. Fidelis Bonaventure Uzoma, Atlas Corps fellow, also talked about high impact solutions to systemic problems while Vanessa Souza took participants on a tour through the virtual art exhibition,” the statement read.
Through his partnership with Alzheimer’s Association of Northern California and Northern Nevada, Kunle Adewale facilitated a Virtual Exhibition of Artworks of Persons living with early dementia in the US. This was an exhibition of selected works from his five-month art workshop borne out of engagement with them.
“We all should bring out our brushes and canvas and paint the world that we want to see and we hope that everyone finds opportunities for their own creative expressions,” Adewale summed up.
Kunle Adewale Day is held every August 2nd. He aims at using the platform as a movement and calls for a change of narratives. He strives to continue to provide visionary leadership and inspire others to engage in social development in Nigeria and Africa through his therapeutic art engagement programmes.