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Jan 24, 2003

Sculptor Stephen Okeke unveils latest work

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He is a man of many parts and many passions, that stretch from the world of business to the realm of religion. But above all, Stephen Okeke is a sculptor and today News 5′s Jacqueline Woods paid a visit to his studio.

Jacqueline Woods, Reporting

Stephen Okeke calls his latest work of art “Standing Beauty”. She is six feet tall and is made entirely from cultured mahogany. The sculpture was commissioned by a Belizean businessman and took almost a year to make.

Stephen Okeke, Sculptor

“Well this is a beautiful lady. It’s not just about being nude; it’s just trying to make friends see what an anatomical work would be. A work that is carefully done, that is well done. And also the theme is standing beauty, but the most important thing I try to represent in the art is to show friends that hey, while you are an indigenous carver, you can still improve yourself and do very well.”

But that personal success did not come easy. Okeke admits that it is still a struggle to sell his art and promote the work that he has been doing for the past twenty years.

Stephen Okeke

“Contemporary sculpture is sculpture of the modern times, sculpture that appeals to the taste of the modern person. And so when you come to Belize and you are talking about contemporary sculpture, you’re really talking about sculptures, not that diverges itself from the traditional concept, but that actually blends the traditional values with what is acceptable. And not just acceptable, but also appeals to the modern person.”

Okeke believes what makes his work unique is the material that his sculptures, like standing beauty, are made from. Like many artists, he works in mahogany, but rather than whole logs, slabs or pieces, Okeke makes use of the sawdust.

Stephen Okeke

“So here we pulverize the mahogany, ground it into a kind of flour and bond it together. So you get the beautiful the sculpture. You cannot find this kind of material anywhere in the world. It is developed solely in Belize.”

Today, you can find Stephen Okeke and his sculptures at the artist’s gallery, the Walking Stick, at mile three and a half on the northern highway. Jacqueline Woods for News 5.


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