Your work is stunning, filled with intricate textiles, what draws you to these textures?
Thank you! I think color, symbolism and materiality play a very major role in my work. Considering the fact that I am so interested in textile culture, these three ideas are very important for me to get my ideas across. I like that fibre and textile artworks toe the line between art and craft, and people are drawn to my work and want to touch it and interact with it because ultimately textiles are tactile considered to be utilitarian. Where I come from, everything has meaning. Different colors mean different things, animals embody certain distinct characteristics and even everyday objects are significant within different cultures in Ghana. What I do is that I take a lot of inspiration from these concepts and use them to craft my own myths which then show up in my work. I also find it very interesting to see how ideas translate depending on where in the world my work is exhibited because context plays a large part in how my work is perceived.
How have your roots shaped you as an artist?
My work is inspired by different aspects of the culture I experienced growing up but really didn’t question because it was just a part and parcel of everyday life. It took being away for me to truly make an effort to understand it better and want to make art that was inspired by it. In a kind of roundabout way, I truly believe the work I make is my way of understanding these traditional practices and presenting them to the world from my perspective. Textiles/fabrics/cloth make up such a significant part of my culture. In Ghana, and in the majority of West Africa (and Africa as a whole actually) what we wear plays such a huge role in how we are perceived in society and similarly how we communicate with each other. Wearing a Kente cloth, for example, indicates an individual’s desire to be regarded with prestige because it has a rich history of being worn by kings and chiefs. I am very fascinated with this idea of such a common material carrying so much importance and value. My practice is all about storytelling and more recently, myth making, and I use textile culture as the medium through which I get to tell my stories.
Is there anyone or anything that sparked the love for art in you?
I grew up in a family that appreciated art. Our walls at home were, and still are, covered in art that my parents collected from local Ghanaian artists and artisans from around the world when they traveled for work. My aunt is a gallerist and I also have an uncle who is an architect. So, I had that art/design influence growing up and I also had those close family members to talk to about my interests. Living and breathing amongst the art pieces in the house I grew up in really inspired me, because I honestly thought it was so cool to be able to create works that brought joy and wonder to others, and I wanted to be able to do something like that. I think that for many artists, the work they make comes from an urge to put something out that they feel that the world needs and a lot of the ideas I have and work. I make comes from that urge.
Describe an accomplishment that meant a lot to you.
My first solo art show in grad school was a big deal for me because it was a very ambitious project, and kind of blew everyone away (including myself). So much so that I had faculty and other members of the public reaching out to me to let me know how impressed they were with my work. After this particular show, I became more confident with my practice and the new direction I had taken and started to think bigger and more complexly about how to approach my artmaking practice.
How has your process changed during these odd times? Have you implemented any new /helpful rituals or routines?
My process hasn’t so much as changed as it has become more streamlined. Having had a lot of time and little access to any other distractions has shown me how much I can get done when I really put my mind to it. So, I have been able to get a lot of stuff done that I had kept pushing aside.
It’s easy to lose sight of the positives lately, have you found any bright lights through all of this?
Weirdly enough I think I have been extremely productive, more so, than I have ever been in my art practice within such a short time period. I also have felt my that creativity and propensity to come up with new and fresh ideas has increased significantly which I really appreciate and would love to latch onto this streak for as long as I can. There is nothing like a new challenge that forces you to think differently than you would have done, about ways to solve it.
Is there anything you wish you knew/ were told as a younger aspiring artist?
Something I learnt from my advisor in grad school and which has stuck with me over the years is to learn how to not edit yourself. As a creative, you are going to come up with countless ideas and sometimes your first instinct is to not do it or start and stop halfway through because it doesn’t seem to be going how you planned. You owe it to yourself to see a project through, so that you can say, hey I tried, it didn’t work, on to the next one. Sometimes it is in finishing those half-done projects that a better more fully-fledged idea arises. So be open to everything, and don’t edit yourself.
Words to live by?
Trust your instinct, and don’t be too caught up in the worlds and lives of others.