Spirits and Folklore of Ghana

AWARDED "Best Mural" in International category for Precita Eyes Mural Center Awards, San Francisco, CA Title: "Spirits and Folklore of Ghana"
A community project in partnership with Cross Cultural Collaborative, Inc. Facilitated by: Laurel True with Lillian Sizemore, and Anna Webb with participation by community members of Nungua, Ghana Completed: July 2004
Sited at: Aba House Cultural Center, Nungua, Ghana, West Africa Dimensions: 22 feet wide x 6.5 feet high (143 sq. feet) Materials: Ceramic tile, mirror, pebbles, seashells, glass, and mixed media.
"Spirits and Folklore of Ghana" is the artwork resulting of a 2004 summer workshop designed and facilitated by Laurel True of True Mosaics in Oakland, CA. Her workshop, Community Mosaic Mural Making, was offered at Aba House Cultural Center located in the seaside town of Nungua, in Ghana, West Africa. "Spirits" is one of five community mosaic projects led by True for Aba House, completed over the course of four summers. For the past four years True has self-funded these community projects in Ghana, receiving a few small donations of materials.
The mural imagery deals with local myth, folklore, traditional spirits and their stories. Upon arrival in Ghana, we interviewed and collected stories from local residents and translated the stories into a drawing that would be the basis for the mural. The pictorial mural depicts Mami Wata, the mermaid/fertility spirit of the Ocean; the three-headed Spirit of the River Densu; Christian churches; the 99 spirits of Nungua; Anansi the spider trickster hanging from a lush tree, and Numo Borketey Lawethe recognized protector of Nunguawith detailed elements of his story such as his footprint enshrined on the rocks, a fish with a special message, and a sacrificial cow.
We brought around 70 pounds of bright glazed tile from the States as well as glass beads and tools. Once in Ghana, we sourced additional local tile, thin set, and grout (filler) in the markets. The local kids gathered shells and pebbles from the beach. Local cement artist, James Ahiave, added relief sculpture to the basic concrete block wall we used as a base for our mural. The snakes, sun and rocks received this sculptural treatment and add a three-dimensional effect to the mosaic.

Local community members helped transfer the design to the wall and over 30 participants; youth, adults, artists and non-artists, all helped to set the mosaic. Many of this year's participants had worked with True on the prior community mosaic projects, while many new participants joined for the first time this summer. Some people worked every day, some just stopped by to set a few pieces and were on their way. The community participants ranged in age from 4 - 65 years. The entire process took us about 8 days to complete. The mural's design reflects the various styles of tile setting that the group brought to the table: from Byzantine-style square set, to hand-nipped shapes and broken tile fitting, and simple placement of pebbles and shells, the piece truly reflects the hands of it's makers.The mural now serves not only as a decorative piece and symbol of cultural identity, but also an educational tool for local youth. These mural workshops have also provided some locals with tile setting skills leading to much-needed employment.

In addition to "Spirits and Folklore", Laurel True and community members completed two additional mosaic murals in 2005 with the Nungua community (Respect the Earth and Adinkra Hene), and a small group of boys ages 12-14 initiated and completed a mosaic mural of their own design.

Other community mosaic projects facilitated by Laurel True at Aba House in partnership with CCC,Inc include: Ogue Be- The History of Nungua (2001), Creativity Archway (2002) and the front pillars at Aba House (2002).
Community youth are continuing the mosaic tradition in Nungua and we look forward to seeing their new projects. Laurel True travels to Ghana most summers to facilitate community mosaic projects, collaborate with local artists and lecture/ teach about mosaic art. For more information, please visit www.truemosaics.com and www.Culturalcollaborative.org. Lillian Sizemore Design | lillian@sfmosaic.com | www.sfmosaic.com
Spirits and Folklore of Ghana written by Lillian Sizemore