She, indisputably, belongs to the rare species. She is a resolute vi¬sual artist - a career that from time immemorial has mainly been claimed by males. She passionately sculptures and paints her way to the top, creat¬ing works that are usually stylistic in nature – a mixture of naturalistic and abstract forms.
And, recently, she was part of the few selected artists who mounted their exhibitions at the very first edition of the Malawi Cultural Festival (Macfest). Her pieces largely capture issues to do with morality, nature, everyday life and problems that people face, among oth¬ers.
That is Eva Chikabadwa, the sculp¬tor and the painter who, apart from exhibiting at Macfest, has also partici-pated in a series of exhibitions like the ones organised by the French Cultural Centre and Goethe Institute, a cultural institution by the German embassy be¬fore it moved to South Africa.
The birth of an artist
Eva's thriving career as an art¬ist dates back to the time she was as young as six years old. She says she, at that material time, used to draw stick human figures on walls of their house with charcoal pieces.
"This used to infuriate my mum who made me wash up my mess now and again. When I reached standard six, I came to realise that I had talent in art as I used to draw a bride in a beauti¬ful umbrella dress for my friends at the back of their notebooks. I remember being once punished for doing this dur¬ing a class lesson," she recalls.
She says that while as a student at Likuni Girls Secondary School, she used to draw on the chalkboard for teachers who acknowledged her talent and that at some point she was presi¬dent for the school's art club.
Today a 32-year-old mother of one, Eva has come to entirely embrace art, taking it more or less like a calling.
"Being an artist is something spiri¬tual in my life. I have always had pas¬sion to draw and paint. When I am pre-paring for an exhibition I do not work to sell but to express my emotions even when I know that the end result will not attract any customer. I do not work to sell but to express my feelings," she unfalteringly declares.
Currently combining as lecturer at Chancellor College (Chanco) and as Masters student at the University of South Africa (Unisa), Eva gradu¬ated from Chanco with a bachelors degree in arts (Humanities - major¬ing in fine art) in 2009 after she had already graduated as a social scientist (majoring in Sociology) in 2003.
She discloses that when she sat for Malawi School Certificate of Education exams, her ambi¬tion was to do art as a profession at University level. However, she was strongly discouraged by family members who thought that art could not benefit her economically enough to sur¬vive hence she found herself registering with the Social Science faculty.
"However, my heart was still torn apart. It was passion for art which compelled me to go back to Chanco to do a second degree in fine arts after I had previously graduated as a social scientist," she says.
The exploits of the artist
It was while at Chanco that Eva came to discover there was a sculptor in her, particularly the time she exhibited her pieces for the first time at the Sadc Women Trade Fair.
"At the fair all my pieces were bought by the then President of Mala¬wi, Bakili Muluzi and his vice, Justin Malewezi. From here I got so encour¬aged and for the first time I was fea¬tured in The Daily Times," says Eva.
She recollects that when she gradu¬ated she was immediately involved in a pilot assignment named Sculpturing Pilot Project by the Geological Survey of Malawi under the main project Utili¬sation of Stones and Mineral Resources in Malawi.
Eva talks highly of her artwork called Jesus Is Coming, which she ex¬plains is about the basic problems that babies and their parents face.
"I have been approached by several mothers who were begging for some lit¬tle funds to buy their baby's milk. One of them told me that she was trying to raise a baby who was left by her sister who died after giving birth. Another told me that she was HIV positive and she was too afraid to breastfeed her baby who was born negative," says the artist, add¬ing that through her piece she is passing on the message to State President Mrs. Joyce Banda as one of the most known advocates of motherhood in Africa.
"Babies are looking up to her (Ban¬da) as Jesus the saviour," she stresses.
However, Eva regards her nomina¬tion for the best Female Visual Artist in Malawi during the African Art Gallery nominations as her most memorable achievement. She was also once given a token of appreciation as one of the vi¬sual artists that have significantly con¬tributed to visual arts in Malawi by Sons and Daughters Magazine.
She is full of praise for her talent in sculpturing and painting, confessing that if it were not for the endowment she would not be what she is at present.
"I teach Fine Art at Chancellor College and this is presently my main means of survival. I also get contracts from other organisations that hire me for my artistic services like recently I was involved in the development of a sec-ondary school curriculum for creative arts and I have also been involved in illustrating some of the primary school books by the Malawi Institute of Educa¬tion," boasts the artist.