Puppeteers, Ma Eva and her traditional elephant puppet

From Reality To Success

As a female succeeds in male dominated field
By: 
Robin Dopoe JR. dopoejr@gmail.com

When Eva Paye decided to engage into visual art, a field largely dominated by men, she might have been aware of how huge this task was, but with hope she managed to achieve her dream.

It has been her childhood vision as a self-taught artist to keep the value of her culture alive and in the minds of the younger generation.

She achieved her vision when she received the ‘Excellence Award’ from the United States Embassy at the 2010 Embassy Arts and Crafts Fair during the tenure of Ambassador Linda Thomas- Greenfield. Eva’s achievement was due to the reflection of Liberian heritage in her costume presentation.

 “Making traditional puppets and dolls help me to better remember the value of our culture,” says Ma Eva. “My mother used to say that all the clay I used to bake as a child would make a living for me.”

The most rewarding thing being an artist, Eva said, “is the expectation that little children will watch my exhibit and learn their culture.”

Ma Eva has been an artist for more than thirty years and she has a very good experience in making puppets and dolls.  

“My dedication to arts is based on the vision to help children erase the negative mindset they have for their culture,” Ma Eva noted.

 Ma Eva is an outstanding artist that demands a lot from her work. She has refused to make anything that is not an excellent reflection of Liberian culture.

The incredible career of Ma Eva has not been without sacrifice.

“Living as a female artist in Liberia is a challenge and the worst part of it is the lack of support from the fast growing population,” Ma Eva explained. “But my life is in the arts and as a result I feel obligated to promote its values.” 

Despite the poor reception regarding material and financial support, she is planning to open a ‘Visual Arts Academy’ for children. “I believe that this academy will serve as a medium to restore our cultural values and bring happiness to less fortunate children,” she said with a smile.

She added it has been established that learning visual arts give children extra abilities to become patriotic. 

Many view her artwork as a mere entertainment while others consider it more than that.

The Executive Director of Liberia Visual Art Institute (Livarts) A. Leslie Lumeh said Ma Eva’s work is amazing for the fact that she uses her own creativity to portray Liberian culture.

“She is one of the best female artists and her creation stirs the mind about our culture and its significance,” says Lumeh.

“Visual art is imagination that is connected to divinity and a way an artist expresses his or her thought in her works,” journalist William Q. Harmon, commented with appreciation.

He added that art brings a sense of humor and makes people connect to the world of nature.

Ma Eva meanwhile said she needs material and financial support towards the establishment of her dream school, the Visual Arts Institute to develop children.

“Even if the support may not come as expected, I’m not going to quit my vision to help children to appreciate their culture,” she said.

Liberian Observer

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