Hardly would you find someone who is both analytical and creative and is superb at doing both. That combination is rare.
IBIENE’s spotlight for the month is on someone, a woman who is that blessed and is expressing herself.
Meet Edidiyoung Ekwere, who describes herself as curious, multi-talented and loyal to a fault with a heart of gold.
Her career kicked off as an exploration geoscientist, then technology, management/strategy and is an artist who assists people with effective mental health techniques using art as the medium!
Read more from Edidiong who relishes the intersection between science and art.
IBIENE: What is your perspective on life?
Edidiong: I see life as a bag of opportunities. Very key to me is to live a life of impact. I love to inspire, motivate and mentor. It’s the foundation of everything I do, professionally and personally. Planning is very key to me so an understanding of my purpose and goals has helped me make clear choices that I can work towards achieving. As I mentioned before, I am curious and open-minded, eager to learn new things all the time.
IBIENE: From Geology to Technology and now Management, what has your journey been like and how do you transit from one to another?
Edidiong: I am a geek at heart. I have been described as a nerd too. I don’t usually believe anyone who tells me this, but that’s another story. However, I cannot deny that I absolutely love science. Understanding how things work fascinates me. I want to know about the first principles, the basics, the building blocks. So, from as young as I can remember, I have found myself very connected to nature. I have always loved nature and everything in it and Geography was one of my very favourite subjects. The opportunity to learn about nature and go on hikes and field trips played a big role in my choosing Geology as my course of study. I eventually went on to work for quite a number of years doing that.
However, working in Geology did not present me with the opportunity to have a bird’s eye view of a business and how it is managed and that was something else I was very interested in. I decided that I wanted to really understand business development and management. So after, I left my job in 2017, I decided that I really wanted a career in Management and my vehicle of choice was going to be digital technology, as it was very obvious that data is the new oil and digitalisation is taking over the world. This would afford me to cut across sectors and industries.
To transition, I had to do a lot of personal development in the areas of strategy, project and quality management, digital transformation, and product management and joined a remote company to begin gaining work experience. Once I got back into the job market and bagged my first full-time job, I went full tilt and worked really hard, and the rest is history. I do not regret switching careers. I love being able to play in technology, looking at trends, drawing insights and using them to transform the business that I work for and being in management affords me to be at the forefront of influencing and making decisions, and actually seeing how those decisions impact growth, revenue, and profits. It’s exhilarating and fulfilling.
IBIENE: What has exploration geoscience taught you about life?
Edidiong: One of the most fascinating things about Geosciences in general, has been one of our fundamental concepts that state that the present is key to the past. It is profoundly insightful and intriguing as one observes geological processes in real-time and makes references from what we see today as to what has happened in the past. This is especially true for exploration, as what we are interpreting is aeons old formations that we have no way of seeing until we have drilled into the ground. It is so exciting to see how these interpretations come to life in contour maps where you can begin to see the way the earth once was and understand the different things that happened at that time, what animals and plants occupied the earth we now stand on by inferring based on the outcrops we see today.
Particularly, I relate my art to source rocks, which are the beginning of the hydrocarbon generation process and symbolise, for me the characteristic to deliver something new. Just as the source rocks embody the hydrocarbon, art comes from within oneself, the birthing of what people could not see until the hands created it. And just as hydrocarbon gets distilled into so many different products, art then leads to other forms of sensory stimulation for those that experience it.
IBIENE: How do you manage your artistic side at the same time?
Edidiong: I’ve always been a creative person. Right from when I could pick up a pencil, I have always sketched, doodled, and drawn something … my notebooks always had a sketch or two somewhere within. You see, art runs in my family, on my father’s side. So, I was born with it.
However, in 2016, I realised with a jolt, that I hadn’t drawn much in over 10 years. I had been doing lots of other creative stuff. In that space of time, even though I hadn’t drawn or painted, I designed and owned a maternity clothing line, I also established in 2009 and ran the first of its kind t-shirt line which incorporated ankara and embroidery and finally, an accessories line where I handmade folded fabric flowers using felt, leather, ankara and other fabrics to make headbands, fascinators and brooches. I did basic art up until Junior Secondary School but being largely science inclined, I wasn’t able to take Art in Senior Secondary. The alternative was to do Technical Drawing, it made a science out of art for me, and I was totally in love. I wound up not doing any of these after school though.
I got back into art in 2017, and I have never looked back again. When I decided to take up art again, I signed up for an online course in Surface Pattern Design. You see, I was scared my art wasn’t good enough so I wanted something that would accept my scribbles and scrawls and let me pass off as a “real” artist. I was so scared I would be laughed at and called a fraud. However, what it wound up doing was helping me regain my confidence. I bought a sketchbook and started sketching again. Then I wanted to paint on canvas and see how the colours mixed. Then I wanted to explore digital and graphics art. I just wanted to make art. Visual. Digital, Surface Pattern Design … Art was back home to stay. I found it was freeing, it was therapeutic, and I had truly missed it.
I enjoy working from home because I can doodle during my lunch breaks if it isn’t a particularly busy day. However, if I am being perfectly honest, I have a sketchbook and/or my iPad with me everywhere I go and I doodle all the time. Helps me concentrate better. For the most part, though, I tend to use alternate evenings and weekends to do a lot of my art.
IBIENE: What inspires some of your designs?
Edidiong: As Vincent Van Gogh said, I dream my painting, and then I paint my dream. I believe that art is innate, so I experiment a lot. I dream, I conceptualize and then I create.
I like to challenge myself; I want to try my hand at something, at everything. I want to see how well my hands can recreate what I can see capering around in the corners of my mind, dancing behind my eyes. I want to see how well I can conquer that which I have previously not mastered.
My subjects vary. What captivates me is form and what to me, I see as beautiful.
I am most drawn by the simplicity of pen and ink and yet, I want to explore colour in all its brilliance. I want my marks to evoke spontaneity, movement, dance, a song.
My goal is to inspire; to create an experience. I want my art, whether it be digital, on canvas, on a pair of sneakers, or on a suitcase, to elicit a response, an emotion, a reaction. And as one gazes upon it in whatever form, I want it to exude so much presence and beauty that you can’t help but be drawn in by it and smile. There is no greater feeling than seeing what originally started as a figment of your imagination come to life in the form of art. The next best thing is when people actually love what they see and can relate to it.
IBIENE: Why do you love to dance and what benefits can people get from dancing?
Edidiong: So, not many people know that I used to dance semi-professionally. I was a member of a gospel dance club in my 20s and we curated dance shows and ministrations all over the country. I also choreographed a few songs back then.
I love the challenge of creating or learning a routine. I love the fluidity and gracefulness. I love that I can use my body to express and evoke emotion. And it’s therapeutic.
The benefits of dancing are manifold. Apart from it being therapeutic, it’s a great workout and allows you to connect with your body. It helps your balance and coordination, builds strength and endurance and improves memory and concentration.
IBIENE: If you would write a letter to 16-year-old Edidiong, what would be in it?
Edidiong: I would tell her that life is so not going to pan out the way you thought it would but never stop dreaming and after all is said and done, you will be alright.
Do you have any question or comment for Ms. Edidiyoung Ekwere? Do share with her in the comment section.