Nnamdi Okonkwo is a talented Nigerian sculptor who lives in Georgia by way of Hawaii. Okonkwo says of his style, “The forms in my sculpture are simplified and stylized to better express my thoughts and ideas which are embodied in fluid lines and simple shapes. It is a mode of expression that comes naturally to me, and it is straight to the point and devoid of pretension. Stylization also offers a greater avenue for the expression of universal themes and emotions. This allows me to broaden the scope of expression by transcending mere literal representation of the figure, provoking different thoughts and ideas, and giving the viewer an opportunity for introspection and contemplation. “
Describe the evolution of your commercial success. In 2004, my wife and I decided that she should quit her job and I would try to be the sole breadwinner of our home. We had just gotten back from Europe with our first child who was then two years of age, and had literally spent every penny we had on that trip. She was working as a CPA, and I was a stay at home dad. I had a home studio and I would try to work on my art as much as I could in between taking care of the baby, while she was at work. But we could see that this arrangement was working against our natural I instincts, and to the detriment of our family. She would rather stay home with the baby but was at work, and I would rather be at work but was home with the baby! Although we were fully aware that what we felt was right for us was also in alignment with the teachings of the gospel, it was quite scary for us to give up the security of her job.
However, I knew we had to take that leap of faith, believing that if we do our best that God will do the rest for us. It was time to put the things we thought we believed to the test! I’ve always felt a calling to be an artist. Even though there had been quite a few people who tried to talk some ‘good sense’ into me, I never wavered because of the strength of my conviction. I knew where my talent came from and believed that it was meant to be used and not hidden away. Only a sadistic and irresponsible being, and I reasoned that God was not any of those things, would give me a useless gift. How and why would He not want to help me to use that talent to make a living?
The decision was made. My wife resigned from her job. Because she was a great worker, her employers did everything in their power to tempt her to stay, and to her credit, she never wavered. We have never looked back since. I now not just believe but know that all those things, which I believed, are indeed true. I have also come to learn that money is the easy part with God. What is difficult for Him is getting us to see that, and then getting us to not worry about money, but rather to preoccupy ourselves with finding out what He needs us to do for Him, and then to do it. I’ve also learned that hard work, coupled with passion, confidence, goodness, honesty and integrity, are magnetic to success.
My definition of hard work has also evolved over the years. I have found out that pushing so hard does not necessarily get you where you want to be any sooner than the right time, for although hard work is necessary, it is not by hard work alone that we succeed. One of the greatest lessons I feel I have learned is that one is at his best when God is working in and through him or her. So I remind myself that the goal is not only to work hard, but it is also to make sure that I live my life in alignment with Him.