Tuesday, June 23, 2009

SaNsA International Artists' Workshop, Kumasi, Ghana, June 2nd - 15th, 2009.

The Asantahene of the Arts
This is Bernard Akoi-Jackson and his installation at the exhibition for The SaNsA International Artists' Workshop. The workshop took place from June 2nd to June 15th, 2009 at the Ghana Cultural Centre in Kumasi. Ten artists from different parts of the world and ten artists from Ghana came together for a two week workshop. In the evenings the artists gave presentations and had discussions in which I was very fortunate to attend a couple.

The artists attending were:
Adwoa Amoah (Ghana) Adwoa also teaches at the Foundation for Contemporary Art in Accra, www.fcaghana.org
Amenyo Dzikunu Bansah (Ghana)
Asokipaala Aberinga (Ghana) Asokipaala is a member of SWOPA (Sirigu Women's Organization for Pottery and Art) located in the village of Sirigu in northern Ghana. I'll be visiting there in July.
Atta Kwami (Ghana) Atta is also an art historian and a professor of art at The Univ. of Kumasi, K.N.U.S.T. He is the main organizer of SaNsA.
Bernard Akoi-Jackson (Ghana) Bernard lives in Accra and teaches at the Nubuke Foundation, www.nubukefoundation.org
Elias Tiger Oppong (Ghana)
Eugene Ampadu (Ghana)
Emmanuel Adjare (Ghana)
Isumaila Moro (Ghana)
Jennifer Opare Ankrah (Ghana)
Ji Hye Yeom (South Korea) www.jihyeyeom.com
Jorge Rocha (Portugal) www.jorgerocha.org
Goddy Leye (Cameroon) Goddy also runs an art center called Art Bakery in Cameroon.
Umesh Kumar (India)
Li Chuan (China)
Mary Hark (USA) Mary also teaches art at the Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison.
Rasheed Olaniyi Akindiya (Nigeria), Rasheed works with street kids in Accra, www.akirash-black-roots.net
Amara Hark-Weber (USA)
Tooraz Khamenehzadeh (Iran) www.tooraj.ir
Urmila Venugopal (India)

The photo below is of Atta Kwami's work. You can google his name and find more of his work on-line. Atta Kwami shows his work internationally and lives and works in Kumasi.

The workshop was held in a large building at the Cultural Centre. This allowed for artists to really use space. These paintings by Atta were very large.

Here is Jorge Rocha (below)singing some Fado. One of the installations was based on music. Two guitarists played and there was an open microphone. Many students came to the exhibition and often a student would go to the mic and start singing. I heard some wonderful music and often other students would begin to dance, a nice festive occasion. Jorge's art was based on food and would cook daily for the workshop. He would go to the market and would create meals based on Ghana dishes along with specialties from the various regions of all the participants. I was lucky to be able to taste some of his art as well.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Family I'm Staying With, Adugyama, Ghana

Since the beginning of April, I've been staying with a family in Adugyama, Ghana. I was introduced to the Atta family by Andrew Roberts, a former Peace Corps volunteer who lived with them for three years. I'm paying rent for a room and for the hallway area as an informal art center for children. They have been gracious in taking me into their family, teaching me Twi and Ghanaian culture, and helping me get oriented to the village.

Here's a photo of Mr. Atta, Auntie Bea, and their 15 yr. old son, Yaw Bimpe. We had just come back from church. It was Holy Thursday and we were at their Jehovah's Witness church, my first experience in a Jehovah's Witness Church. We sang in Twi and passed the bread and wine and afterwards everyone wanted to shake my head and welcome me. Mr. Atta is a successful farmer who is often working at his cocoa farm some distance away. He comes back every two weeks for a week or so and works on the farm he owns in Adugyama.

Auntie Bea is also very busy working on the farm. She is often bringing back cocoa, plantains, casava, yams or maize. At home, she drys the cocoa, prepares and sells maize, and cooks fufu (the main staple food made of plantains, casava, yams). Every Sunday, I eat fufu in the evening with the family. Fufu's the main staple in the Ashanti Region. It took me awhile to get used to the doughy texture but kakra kakra (little by little). It's usually served with a stew made of peppers, palm oil, and tomatoes.

Mr. Atta and Auntie Bea are often laughing and talking with those who stop by. The family spends a lot of time just enjoying each others' company and people are always stopping in for a chat. Pretty much everyone's speaking in Twi and someone will help me with a translation, usually Yaw Bimpe.

Yaw Bimpe goes to school in Abuakwa, about 25-30 km away on the way to Kumasi. He enjoys soccer and is often playing in the evening in neighborhood matches. He hangs out with his friends a lot and is singing songs he learns on the radio or on T.V. He likes to joke around and reminds me of so many other teenagers I know.

Sarah is going to nurses training school in Kumasi. She comes back to visit occasionally and is outgoing. Ama (in the middle) is close to finishing her high school studies. She attends a boarding school in Kumasi. She said she wants to go into business. She was home for the month of April and helped me with translating Twi which was really nice. She and Yaw Bimpe are really close and entertain each other a lot.

Becky has only been back home a couple of times while I've been here. She's studying geological engineering at K.N.U.S.T, The University of Kumasi. She has one more year left and says she'd like to visit the U.S. maybe in a year or two.

This is a picture of Nana. She has a good sense of humor and as you see in this picture is not camera shy. She's often listening to her radio in the evening. I've gotten into the habit of drinking Chelsea tea and will often share it with her which she appreciates. She reminds me of my own grandmother. She'll sometimes bow down to me as a gesture of respect and then I'll bow down to her a little lower as a gesture of respect until we're both close to the ground and chuckling.

Nana has a room in the adjacent bldg along with Kwaku Baah, her grandson whom she takes care of. Nana is the mother of auntie Bea and Rose. I wrote about Rose and her daughter Sandra in the hairstylist blog. Nana's other sisters stop by and chat and it seems like family of one type or another is always stopping by. Her son also lives in a little house in the back. I see him occasionally. There is also a couple of farm laborers that live in the house. And then of course the goats have a room of their own and in the evening mosey into it or are coralled into it.

This is a picture of Kwaku Baah. He lives in the house with Nana, his grandmother. He likes to draw and has been drawing a lot of houses lately. He also like to play soccer, joke around, and tell stories. Yaw Bimpe and his friends, Kwaku Baah, and I have been going on walks to neighboring villages.

Besides the family I'm staying with in these pictures, there are so many other friends and family that are always stopping by. Just staying at the house seems to me a pretty active experience. I do a lot of my painting in the back now by Nana's room and the kitchen. I have a little space to work and still be a part of all the family happenings.