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696 Praxis Lane Fayetteville, AR 72701

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In February, Jacob Paa Joe Jr. (Jacob Tetteh-Ashong) will host a 2 ½ week workshop on proverbial coffins, or abebu adekai, in the Studio and Design Center. Popularized in the mid-1950s in Ga communities in southern Ghana as a way of honoring the deceased, these vibrant coffins are known around the world today. When created for local use, they illustrate aspects of the deceased’s life. A person who worked in the fishing industry may be buried in a coffin shaped like a boat or a fish, while an individual who demonstrated bravery in life may be interred in a lion, and a person who amassed great wealth may be buried a luxury car. When created for inclusion in galleries and museums in Ghana and abroad, references expand further still. For the School of Art, Jacob will be working on a Sankofa bird coffin, representing an important Akan principle, adopted in African and African Diaspora communities to convey the importance of looking to the past to determine the best course forward.

 

This workshop also features a proveribal coffin miniature exhibition, a cross-section of Jacob Paa Joe Jr. (Jacob Tetteh-Ashong)’s whimsical miniatures from 2024, located on the second floor lobby of the Studio + Design Center. Based on the tradition of proverbial coffins, or abebu adekai, popularized in Ga communities in southern Nigeria in the mid 1950s, the miniatures similarly include everything from fish, to walkmans, to beer bottles, to basketballs, to air jordans in a bold range of colors.

 

Jacob apprenticed with his father, renowned coffin artist, Paa Joe (Joseph Tetteh-Ashong), between 2008 and 2016 and, since that time, he has co-managed Paa Joe Coffin Works in Greater Accra as a master artist. His proverbial coffins and related miniatures have been exhibited internationally, including most recently in the Chicago Architecture Biennial in 2023. He has also been featured in the documentary, Paa Joe and the Lion, directed by Benjamin Wigley, along with international news segments.

 

Want to see Jacob Paa Joe Jr. at work or to participate in the creation of a full-size proverbial coffin? Please visit the Ceramics Gallery on the first floor of the Studio and Design Center between Monday, February 5 and Friday, February 16, 9am-5pm!

 

This event is supported by the Art History Program in the School of Art.

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