Taking It To The Streets – Art in Historic Jamestown

Opoku's work Ghetto House

“It looks like one of those self-made houses in Ghana. Or an opening to a small business or restaurant.” My other friend kindly remembered a hole-in-the wall restaurant on his first visit to Ghana. “Amazing food for about 2 cedis” he claimed in his British accent. Standing in front of a large wooden structure, strewn with patterns and designs, I thought of what this large rectangle with geometric patterns could be, as the tall structure stared at us in the dim Jamestown Community Theatre.

Ghetto House is part of the Post No Bill exhibition by Zohra Opoku. Ghetto House is indeed a door opening to a house with kente patterns. Opoku was inspired by the tradition of rural women to decorate their homes. But she doesn’t see it as mere decoration, but meaningful and even artistic. “These women have a lot of time to think and create. It’s a form of creative expression of women in Ghana” Opoku states.

She was also inspired by kente itself, having been given this cloth as a gift from her Ghanaian father.

Having a background in fashion, she also explains her focus has always been on textiles and the symbolism in them.

The stunning artist stands petite with curly mid-length brown hair and bright white teeth. The combination of red lipstick, with the green and black African print blouse she wore matched the pan-African colors of the kente on Ghetto House. In fact, Pan-Africanism is a prevalent theme in her work, having been inspired by a trip to Brazil in 2007. She says, “Brazil brought me closer to Africa than Africa itself. I learned so much about slavery and African history there. There are some places there you think that you’re in Africa.” Opoku is of Ghanaian and German ancestry.

Her works are motivated by Ghanaian artists like Larry Otoo who captures the everyday of Ghanaians. Opoku, too, is inspired by the everyday. This is evident as even to where she decided to host the exhibition. The town is fitting as Jamestown is known for its historic architecture and history of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. She asserts “There’s something about Jamestown, there’s something boiling here.”

The Jamestown Community Center is an unassuming building where events like theatre workshops and computer classes are held. It’s right next to the Attoh Quarshie Boxing Center. A long-time resident tells me boxing is a source of entertainment in the neighborhood. Some of Ghana’s best boxers come from here. One can see posters of events, as well as health ads posted on the wooden doors of Jamestown Community Center. Neighborhood children ran in and out of the building while I took in the art. On holding the exhibition in the center, Opoku explains “I wanted to connect to people who never have access to an art exhibition. For them to be able to see and hear something else.”

Ghetto House and the rest of the Post No Bill exhibition is an example of creating the everyday all the while making it accessible to everyday people.

Opoku's work Ghetto House

Street Art: Opoku’s work Ghetto House

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2 Responses to “Taking It To The Streets – Art in Historic Jamestown”

  1. AbbanBudu says:

    Rox, u seem to even know Gh more than I do. I haven’t been to James Town before, but your post has certainly erased some of the perceptions i hold about that community. Awesome.

    • Roxanne L. Scott says:

      Oh Terry… you must go! I was so impressed with the history. Please let me know wen you make it there!

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