Through Her Eyes

Today’s post is about Maryam Umar Maigida. An art historian and a very talented and unique painter from Nigeria.

It is honestly refreshing to see a female painter, from the northern part of Nigeria excelling in what is considered an unconventional career, by a society that generally under appreciate art.

Read on to find out more about Maryam’s work and her charitable contributions to the society.

Don’t forget to follow her journey on

Can you tell us a bit about your self?

Answer: My name is Maryam Umar Maigida, an origin of yobes state. I am a visual artist whom obtained a B.A fine Arts  degree, majoring in Art History, from Ahamdu Bello University Zaria.

I am a painter, an art historian and a member of the female Artists of Nigeria. I have held one solo exhibition and have participated in almost 10 group exhibitions such as Denim 2016/2017.

I have sold a large number of my paintings both nationally and internationally. I have had the privilege of being interviewed on the Nigerian Television Authority, twice.

I am able to apply my knowledge in Art History into my  paintings, It enables me to attach a lot of meanings and ideas to my work.

My paintings have aesthetic purposes, and serves as a means of  communication. It enables me to speak and spread some knowledge to my audience.

How and when did you realise your talent for painting?

Answer: I’ve always had the passion for arts right from my nursery school days…. Which led me into studying fine Arts. However, I did not realise my talent for painting until my third year of uni. I was always scared of giving it a go. I slowly developed interest and the courage to challenged myself. And i decided to take abstract painting as an elective course.That marked the begining of my passion for painting. I was able to do that with the help and  influence of some of my great lecturers whom believed in me… Dr Mu’azu and Prof. Jerry Buhari.

How will you describe your style of painting?

Answer:  my style of painting ranges from Abstraction to near naturalistic styles. I predominantly work with acrylics and other mediums such as Ankara, snail and periwinkle shells, buttons, zips, balls, beads , paper Mache and many other mediums which will best convey my message with clarity.

My works are mostly identified with the frequent use of vibrant polychrome colours. Impressionism technique painting, gives me room to portray these vibrant colours. Most times my abstract paintings gives the audience the opportunity to interpret them, from their own perspectives.

Is painting your full time career or a hubby?

Answer: i would say painting is my full time career.

What are the challenges and benefits of being an artist?

Answer: I believe there are various factors that determines the benefits and challenges of an artist in the society. A major factor is ‘Art Appreciation’. An artist will face greater difficulty in a society that under appreciate art.

Other factors like Religious, environmental, educational, economical and even political factors. For example a religion which permits some areas of art and rejects other areas,Or an economy which doesn’t value artist, can have a negative impact on the artist’s success.

What is your biggest achievement so far?

Answer: my biggest achievement is my solo exhibition in 2015 , titled “strength in weakness” it opened the doors to everything I have achieved in my art career till today and in future by the grace of Allah. The exhibition took place in my final year of university in Zaria. It was a challenge because I had to juggle revising for my exams, compiling my project and at the same time planning for the solo exhibition. Alhamdullahi! It turned out to be a huge success.. It was graced by well known art professors and doctors. Professor Jerry Buhari did the honour of opening and giving a speech for the exhibition. Prof salihu, Dr Mu’azu Muhammed, Head of departments Dr,Gambo , Late Dr kefas Danjuma , Dr Caleb ,Prof,Jacob Jarry and many more.

What project are you working on at the moment?

Answer: I am working on a mural project for a secondary school presently. And I am also about to start my new series of paintings, it’s a series which will portray  the beautiful colours and designs in deep sea animals… I have frequently been studying about several sea  creatures. And I found them so interesting and decided to use them to communicate some knowledge to the society. I also want to incooperate Arabic calligraphy in these series, with the influence of some friends who are into Arabic calligraphy.

How do you get inspirations for your painting, would you describe it as a spiritual experience?

Answer:  I get inspirations from my environment, everyday to day activities. I feel the need to communicate about certain things; such as problems faced in the society, corruption, child trafficking, bomb blasts e.t.c.

I also get inspired by the works of other artists, such as Jackson Pollock the impressionist artist and Marcellina okpotor, a Nigerian female artist.

Out of all your paintings, do you have a favourite and why?

Answer: I have a lot of favorite works, because I grow attached to my paintings especially when it has a lot to communicate to the public. Some of those paintings are “taking or giving” mixed media, 100cm x 67cm 2014 which was my first painting on canvas.  “Circle of life” mixed media, 100cmx 100cm  2015, “finding Resilience 1 /2 mixed media, 70cmx50cm ,2017. “Eggs of time” mixed media , 100cm x 67cm 2017.

How do you think being a woman shapes your vision as an artist?

Answer: As a woman I believe I have the ability to feel more and react more to the activities happening around me. Art is all about self expression. An artist can express multiple feelings such as love, sorrow, pains , happiness , excitement  and many more. Also in our present society, art is playing a hug aesthetics role be it at home, office, hospital, or school.

What aspect of your painting  process do you think our readers will find interesting?

Answer: The ability to depict or portray ideas with the use of mixed media ….such as Ankara to be precise.. I find it interesting assembling pieces of different materials , in different colours and sizes on a canvas to depict a head gear, or to identify traditional clothing.

Is there a time you felt like you failed, and how did you overcome it?

Answer: There has never been a time I felt I failed, because I believe everything happens for a reasons. I stay content and keep on going

Are you involved in any humanitarian activity?

Answer: I have been in involved in different humanitarian activities where we help raise funds by auctioning some number of my paintings at a charity events, and a certain percentages of the sales goes to the charity. So far, I have help raised money to support Samira Sanusi Sickle Cell Foundation, Medicaid Cancer Foundation and Almajiri child education. I am looking forward to supporting many more humanitarian organizations.

How do you unwind after a hectic day?

Answer: It’s funny but I enjoy watching cartoons so much. It’s either I’m eating all sorts of sugar junks or I’m watching cartoons or I am surfing the internet for funny videos.

Do you have any advice for aspiring artists

Answer:  Patience is the key. You should never feel broken down. Believe in yourself and never stop learning, learn from the works of other artists and most importantly develop and Understand your style of painting, as every artist has his/her style of painting.

If you are finding it hard to sell your work, don’t worry or get discouraged, keep producing until you find your target audience. Beside art work never goes to waste. Look at it as an investment for the future.

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