Art Talk & Exhibition by Crystal C. Mercer
December, 2018. The StudioAccra, Accra, Ghana.
This was one exhibition I wasn’t going to miss. About a month before this, I had the rare chance to travel on a research trip – together with sixteen other artists and creatives, to Wa in the Upper West Region of Ghana. This was part of a three-month capacity building and experimental workshop titled “Ghana Must Go: Forward”, organised by the Nubuke Foundation. Kofi Setordji, master artist and Founder of Nubuke led us on a journey of self-discovery while exposing us to the predominant yet ebbing weaving culture in Wa, while also engaging us as creative individuals on the possible ways of preserving this dying art. Crystal was one of the artists on this life-changing experience.
Crystal is an all-round Afro-Creative: a textiles artist, actor, activist, poet, author, Founder/Creative Director of Columbus Creative Arts + Activism, and Designer and Lead Merchant of Safi Fabric Market. She fuses arts and activism by using theatre, textiles, and poetry to tell social justice narratives, through merchandising and storytelling, with an emphasis on uplifting voices of colour.
Crystals’s presentation was quite fascinating as she threw more light on how her unique life experiences and her previous research at The Clinton School of Public Service, USA culminated into this expressive body of work. She writes, “Threading Through: Pan African Textiles and the Stories They Tell will be an in-depth, on-going, examination of fibre, technique, and narratives of cloth. These narratives will weave between African roots and the Diaspora extension of those roots in African-Americans.”
The intricate details of the works and bright threads and cloths used instantly drew me in to follow all the patterns presented. My favourite piece, titled “Abira” employed six different materials: silk, felt, wax print, leather, cotton and blended silk. “Abira” displays a collage-style woven image of a young Ghanaian girl, surrounded by flowers and bright colours. Indeed a striking piece, Crystal deftly puts all these materials together, evoking amicability, peacefulness and love.
I left the Studio Accra, after getting another opportunity to also re-connect and catch-up with the crew from the trip to Wa. Shoutouts to Crystal for this incredible show!