My work explores the feeling of dislocation I have experienced through themes of cultural identity, the concept of home, material ritual, and material history. By sharing my personal experience, I hope to address the experiences of dislocation experienced by other people in contemporary society. I grew up in a family home known as an Akan, which is the ethnic group to which I belong. When I find myself outside of Ghana, I am identified as a Ghanaian. This is typically associated with Africa, but after traveling to the United States to study art, I discovered that I had adopted a new identity, which is a contrast for me. The color of my skin and the way I speak have become defining features of my identity. This is how my sense of self intertwined with places, whether local or foreign, prompting questions about identity, its societal constructs, and perceptions. The idea of being perceived as a stranger became a focal point, encapsulating my experiences and offering an emotional context for my journey as a Ghanaian residing in the diaspora.
In creating the sculptures, I draw inspiration from my past to circle the square of my present, exploring my emotions while using clay between the two places I call home – Ghana and the United States. I think about art as ritual, as a way of maintaining or challenging my multiple cultural values. My ritual begins with thinking about the feeling of dislocation, the emotions it evokes, and how I want the work to function in the space. I begin with clay because it is derived from the earth, we eat out of clay, and we sleep in clay. Clay is a medium that has the ability to capture my touch to encapsulate the emotions of living in the diaspora by sculpting ceramic using an adapted Ghanaian coil technique. I then select other materials to combine with clay through the process of layering, cutting, braiding, and assemblage, which visually captures the impact of cultural differences. Ceramics, batik fabrics, yarns, video, and altered everyday objects are used for their complex meanings, and the memories and sentiments that they evoke. In my work, I use the ritual as a metaphor for the adaptability that shapes me in the face of change through cultural transformations.
Through my work, I produce a visual metaphor that conveys the essence of my ongoing diasporic journey and how it affects my identity. It is an invitation for the viewer to examine the intricate interplay between identity and place. I use my art and my autobiography to articulate all these experiences and create a space for the viewer to reflect on these issues of dislocation facing contemporary societies.