Anthony Amoako-Attah is a Ghanaian artist who manipulates glass to look like woven fabric through screenprinting using glass powders, glass enamels, waterjet cutting and finishing through kiln forming. He perceives glass as language: a platform through which he draws upon his Akan cultural heritage. He concentrates on social, political, and cultural issues that intertwine with integration, migration, dislocation and personal identity through the use of Ghanaian traditional Adinkra symbols and Kente fabric patterns.
The Akan people live primarily in present-day Ghana and Ivory Coast in West Africa. Akan society is traditionally matrilineal, tracing their historical descent and inheriting property through the female line. Within the Akan, there are successive stages of rites of passage: the naming ceremony at birth, puberty, marriage, childbirth and death. These traditional rites use a highly developed symbolism and are performed to instil values and education in their people: expressions of culture and spirituality that bind together the family and community. The artist is interested in exploring the possibilities of using glass as a ‘western material’, one familiar to the artworld, as a new medium to capture the atmosphere presented during the rituals performed within the rites.
Adinkra symbols represent abstract concepts or accepted wisdom, and are used extensively in fabrics, logos and pottery. They are incorporated into walls and other architectural features. There are over 350 patterns in Kente fabric patterns, each with their own distinguishable meanings drawn from oral literature, historical events, plants, proverbs, and even from social norms and etiquette. The colours used also have specific meanings: black for maturity; blue for love and harmony; gold for wealth and spiritual purity; green for the land, crops, spiritual growth and renewal. Amoako-Attah is fascinated in the way fabrics are made and worn, expressing the personality of both weaver and wearer.
Anthony Amoako-Attah is a PhD student in Art and Design (glass and ceramics) at the University of Sunderland, where he received an MA (glass) in 2016. He completed a BA in Industrial Art (ceramics) at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana. His work has been exhibited at the National Glass Centre in Sunderland, and at Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens, which commissioned him to produce an artwork for their collection in 2020. Amoako-Attah is the recipient of several awards in the UK and USA, including Winner in the Aspiring Glass Artists 2020 category in Warm Glass UK’s The Glass Prize, Artist of the Fair, Collect 2022, London, and International Artist Award, British Glass Biennale, 2022.
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