At the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, two murals, six feet and 20 feet each are visible as you enter the place. Away from the hospital, there is Pego the mascot, an imposing sculpture standing at the U. J. Esuene stadium, Calabar. Again, at the High Court Complex, Calabar, the Lady of Justice, ever so visible in court premises, hangs up there as you lift your eyes, offering no idle distraction. Journey to the Cross River state Governor’s Lodge in Abuja and you will not miss the loose carved inscription in metals that confirms you are at the lodge. We point you to only a few of the works that are the handwork of Victor Eson Ecoma.
Ecoma, an Associate Professor in the Visual Arts and Technology Department of the Cross River University of Technology, has firmly established himself as an artist whose works cannot be overlooked, in depth and content. While it is in the nature of most people to dismiss the complex processes that are expressed in art, even the intricate signposts that should guide us, Ecoma’s works penetrate eloquently the stubborn foils of ignorance, arresting the senses, sucking in the individual and leaving him to wander into the illuminating cadences contained in his works. Clearly, even though it could be loud thinking, Ecoma’s varied influences that are resonately transmitted in his works, encourage a captivating kind of seamless sequentiality that make you take early notice that his works ‘talk’.
He was born in Itigidi, Abi L.G.A, Cross River state and had early education in Abakiliki, and Owerri, Nigeria’s South-East region, returning home for his secondary education at the Community Secondary School, Ugep, Yakurr L.G.A. His artistic flair took him to the then College of Education, Uyo, where he obtained an N.C.E in Fine and Applied Arts. To sharpen his skills and broaden his knowledge of Fine and Applied Arts, Ecoma went to the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and snapped up a degree in 1990. He followed this up with a Masters and a Doctorate degrees in Anthropology, from the universities of Ibadan and Uyo, Nigeria, respectively.
The man has compulsively applied himself to the teaching and application of Fine and Applied Arts in a career spanning 28 years and counting. His students in the Cross River University of Technology say “…he has it intellectually to deliver at all times and also has the necessary educational exposure to take on multi-faceted challenges in the arts”. It is a testimonial that adds gloss to Ecoma’s shine.
Alive to the fact that all he knows will come to nought if it is not recorded in ink and paper, he has gone ahead to pen four articles, as chapters in books, six articles and counting in reputable national and international journals. By far, his contribution to the growth and development of tourism in Cross River state, is captured for the records in his book, “Obudu Ranch Resort: Flagship of Nigeria’s Tourism”, the result of his work while doing his doctoral research. He states in the book’s preface that the “book is to provide background knowledge about the Ranch, to enlighten the general public on its product and the attendant benefits of holidaying in the Ranch. It is intended to whet your appetite and stimulate…” a demand that should see visitors make the Ranch their emphatic destination of choice.
Tucked under his belt to underline the seriousness he attaches to his work are 21 high profile art exhibitions from Calabar to Lagos, Uyo, Abuja, Eket, Nsukka, just to mention a few. At the “Harvest of Harmattan Retreat” in Lagos (2004), Ecoma’s expressive dexterity stood him out from among the large crowd that had gathered. Little wonder that last year, he underwent for two weeks, an Art Resideñcy at the Slade School of Fine Arts, University College, London.
Apart from being a Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute, London, he is also a Fellow of the Institute of Industrial Administration of Nigeria and Member of five relevant professional bodies, in Nigeria and abroad. In time, Ecoma’s works we predict, may become the standard measurement scale for works out of Calabar; even if you disagree, this widely travelled academic is headed for the skies.
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