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Mary Ene: Conquering the world of sculpturing

Mary Ene Dominion does not believe women are back benchers in the pursuit of excellence in every facet of life as it was in the…

Mary Ene Dominion does not believe women are back benchers in the pursuit of excellence in every facet of life as it was in the past when they were relegated to the sidelines.

Today, women in her estimation are excelling in various fields alongside their male counterparts.

MaryEne is one among such women in Benue State, who have carved a niche for themselves, doing exploits, rendering unequivocal services and breaking through barriers to excel in difficult tasks.

For the love of art, MaryEne, a sculptor making waves in her enclave, would have trained as a nurse and probably be contributing her quota to the development of the medical institution in the country. But she preferred to delve into the world of sculpturing – a male dominated path – to conquer.

“It’s challenging to maintain a career and be presently an engaging mother. So, every task has to be prioritised. Goal setting and focus is all about balancing and being committed to it. So, I developed a routine in order to maintain the energy necessary for my work schedule.

“I work mostly at night and rest when my children are in school for just a few hours. With five kids, you have a lot of noise; lots of laundry, and sometimes it’s really hard. I feel like there’s not enough of me to go round, but I hang in there and it’s okay,” she responded in a chat with our correspondent in Makurdi.

No doubt, MaryEne feels more fulfilled as an artist, aiming more to depict the complications of life through  wood, colours, texture and symbolism. She views life from an artistic perception and lives it through wood works or other forms of colouring that appeal to the common people’s reasoning.

To do this effectively, she has participated in exhibitions such as “Dreams Alive” and “Life In My City” and other several academic workshops after first acquiring a National Diploma (ND) in Fine Arts from the Benue State Polytechnic, Ugbokolo, and a degree from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN).

MaryEne, who hails from Otukpa District in Ogbadigbo LGA of Benue State, started producing sculpted works as a fresher during which she produced a metal work titled: “The dying horse”, and a wood carving titled: “The gods are not to blame”, among other explorative works using waste (on display in the Donary Studio), while also creating art pieces for various local businesses.

MaryEne who combines her role in the home front as wife with art is currently a part-time lecturer with the Benue State Polytechnic, Ugbokolo, where she teaches sculpture and speaks on the role of arts in human lives.

On why she chose the profession and whether it was profitable, the Idoma born artist who resides in Otukpo town alongside her husband and children, nodded affirmatively, but quickly added that for her, it was about love for the career, rather than money.

“It is not just about the money because if you fix your eyes on money you will be disappointed. It is the love I have for it that keeps me going. The zeal too. I had reasons to quit but couldn’t because of the love I have for it. I have been teaching for the past 10 years without pay, but I still go to teach art because I love it. It is part of me.

“I didn’t learn it in school, it was part of me, the school only guided me and cleaned me up. If the skill is not in you, you cannot do it. I would have gone to a nursing school but for my love (art),” she said.

MaryEne believes that her art will rule the world in a matter of time as at the moment.

Limitations notwithstanding, MaryEne strives to meet deadlines where and when necessary so as to put smiles on the faces of those who patronise her.

She explained that the financial implications for those who want to venture into art depends largely on the area such person want to major in. She encouraged more women to embrace the profession, which she said could be in the area of; painting, sculpting, ceramics, textile, photography, fashion and design, among others.

MaryEne intends to continue to work hard to make a mark in her chosen field.

“It’s hard work, I just started my race. I have done modeling of human figures, relief works, wood carvings among others. I use my art to depict the complications/challenges and to keep records of events in our environment, using wood, waste as my medium colour, texture and symbolism. During the COVID-19 pandemic when the heat was on, I did some line drawings to talk about it to create awareness,” she added.

She stressed the need for those with artistic talent to do a lot more to bring back the glory in blacksmithing, broom making, using banana leaves, basket weaving, mats, wooden plates and spoons.

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