The young audacious face seems to be emerging from its darkness. It brightly displays confidence to face the future at one half while the other hazy-painting portrays fear and uncertainty. Perhaps, this is a subject to oppression or intense manipulation. The outer ears were distinctively rigid as one who wouldn’t let a word slip pass it without eavesdropping. The eye structure is buried in darkness, as the only bit of lightness is undeniably visible and seems to be his only guide out of his fears. The neck with the torso in darkness were left to disappear in the rough texture of the canvas painting hung on the wall that was immediately noticed as Queen Nwaneri warmly welcomed us in to her home wearing an enormous smile.
Over the years, track records have shown that females in the art industries are dynamite waiting to explode. They’ve been thriving in all works and form of art. These women looked adversity in the face and yet overcame, despite all odds, they were winners. Difficulties kept them moving. A few of them were Ada Udechukwu, Chinwe Chukwuogo-Roy, Oyenike Okundaye amongst others. They are recognized internationally for their creativity and their intense passion for what they do. Often, these artists face challenges due to gender oppression and inequality in their career; this is prominent to industries in the emerging market of the world. They often encounter difficulties in training and trading before their work gains recognition.
Over 80% of Nigerian youths are unemployed which is why they are buying into the idea of entrepreneurship as a means of achieving financial fulfillment. idriftonline takes our iPersonality Column to a new level as we feature budding Young Nigerian Female Artist – Queen Nwaneri as she share her career story, struggle for survival and her views on Nigerian youth policy in an exclusive interview with the idriftonlineTEAM.
LET’S MEET YOU?
My names are Queen Tochukwu Nwaneri, born in Rome in the early 1990’s. I started drawing since I was 10. I used to be called a photocopy machine back then in High School because I could actually duplicate images and objects as they were. Back in my days at Mayday College, my Art teacher – Mr. Charles; appreciated my talent and made me believe i could do great things with it, he gave me a kind of confidence which made me feel i could achieve anything. I held onto it and i worked on it.
HOW WILL YOU DEFINE YOUR STYLE OF ART?
I will define my art style as “Spontaneous Expressionism”, a revival of the significance of contemporary art with a new interpretation reflecting todays spirit of time. Art satisfies our individual needs from personal expression. To communicate our ideas and sentiments we use different kind of languages, so far visual art constitutes one of those languages ‘art as an instrument of personal expression’. Art is not necessarily confined to self revelation which deals exclusively with the artist private emotions and life. Art is an embodiment of personal view and objects that are familiar to all of us. It should touch and transform something in you.
MOST NIGERIAN PARENTS HAVE OFTEN BEEN UNAVOIDABLY INVOLVED IN DECIDING CAREER CHOICE FOR THEIR CHILDREN, DID YOU EXPERIENCE SAME? WERE YOU ABLE TO MAKE YOUR STAND? IF SO, HOW WAS IT FOR YOU STANDING ON YOUR CHOICE?
while i was in my Senior class in MayDay College still doing what i enjoined, my father delayed my plans by asking me to focus on something more serious like Law, though he wasn’t in the country at that time but the fear I had of him made me give up on Art for a while. I pleaded, cried and pleaded again ‘No Way’, he turned me down at all sides. To God be the glory I overcame all that, I worked as an intern at the Nike Center for Art and Culture in Osogbo where I gathered by skills in Wood Carving and Adire. I later enrolled in Obafemi Awolowo University and left with Upper Credit Diploma in Fine and Applied Arts.
HAVE YOU EVER REGRETTED ANY DECISION YOU MADE?
I have never regretted any decision made with my career till present. I’m a very decisive and organised person, I never have a ‘Cross-mind’ when I aim at something.
I left my home in Lagos at the age of 17 to pursue my art career at the Nike Center for Art and Culture, that was a bold step i took at that young age, a decision i made, a step i took with caution and something i never regretted.
CHALLENGES YOU FACED…
My major challenge was finance. My father did his best in providing for me but he never understood how consistent i needed money to purchase art materials and how expensive they were. At a time i looked for other ways to make ‘Small Cash’ so i could assist myself in whatever way i could. I sorted into selling hand bags and Airtime which was for short time because painting can be so time demanding. So it was pretty much different for me but i never gave up. Things got better and i began selling my works consistently and the cash kept rolling in. Then i realized that achieving something is beyond being hardworking. Money has a important role to play. It was an encouragement for me and I’m glad it rolled in when i hadn’t given up.
HOW WILL YOU DEFINE YOUR SENSE OF FASHION?
Simple and classy…
IF YOU WOULD CHANGE ONE THING IN YOUR LIFE NOW, WHAT WOULD THAT BE?
If I would change one thing in my life now… hmmm (she went into deep thought for some few seconds) I’ll wish to be tall O (we all laughed)
WHAT’S YOUR DEFINITION OF SUCCESS?
Doing what you love is good. Succeeding in it is great but bringing your visions and dreams to reality is an achievement, that’s success.
NIGERIAN YOUTH AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP?
Most of our youths are coming up with unique ideas, everyone trying to be creative by doing something new and it’s great. Being an entrepreneur is a vision, a path to success. It’s a way out to the high rate of unemployment but this can be achieved when your visions are put into action and not permanent ‘residents’ in your mouth.
AT THE AGE OF 95, WHAT GLOBAL ACHIEVEMENT WOULD YOU HAVE ATTAINED THAT YOUR GRANDCHILDREN COULD WRITE ABOUT?
I don’t know who I would be because people change but I know who I am now… One thing they’ll surely write is “How much impact I have made in the life of youths, not necessarily artists but the people I have inspired and helped on my way to the top”.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM YOU SOON…
ADVISE FOR PEOPLE THAT LOVE AND ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT WHAT THEY DO?
Never ignore that thing you do that always put a smile on your face. Never give up on something that has become part of you. It’s worth fighting for, and giving up because people say you should means you don’t have a mind of your own. Goodluck.
we share with you some of Queen Nwaneri creative works we were able to lay hands on as though some are “unfinished” during the idriftonlineTEAM time of visit but we hope to upload more of her paintings here and update you on her upcoming exhibition.