By Paa Joe
A name for grandmothers who are passionate about lives of their children and their great-grandchildren. Nye-Awo is a name for someone who loves and cares for many generations of their descendants. The Beauty of Many Nations by Jacob Tetteh-Ashong is an on-going series of wood carved fantasy female head sculptures, adorned in earrings, lace front wigs, and vibrantly hand painted eye make-up and lipstick.
Jacob Tetteh-Ashong is a Ghanaian sculptor who is the heir to Paa Joe and the preeminent Paa Joe Coffin Workshop based in Accra. Tetteh-Ashong has unified his intricate knowledge of traditional African woodwork with an interest in body image and fashion that began during his residency in Plettenberg Bay, South Africa. The figurative African woman that Tetteh-Ashong has carved in the first of this series all evoke the beauty of ancient royalty, Queen Mothers, the modernity of ordinary women, and the dignity of female elders. Each female figure may stand alone, or as part of a group of women.
Imbued with intrigue and alluring beauty, these ten female heads have been named in reverence of the Ga-Adangbe, Ashanti, and Ewe indigenous nations in Ghana, West Africa. Jacob Tetteh-Ashong and Paa Joe are both Ga and descendants of Kane Kwei, the Father of abebuu adekai, Ghana’s proverbial coffin tradition. Proverbial coffins are funerary objects with usage dating from mid-century to present day which ceremonially preserve the identities of the dead and have become objects that reinforce the West African faith in the afterlife and human immortality.
THE BEAUTY OF MANY NATIONS
Paa Joe & The Beauty of Many Nations
The Future Perfect has acquired the first head sculptures in a series entitled The Beauty of Many Nations by artist Jacob Tetteh-Ashong for Paa Joe. Paa Joe’s artistry is rooted both in West African spiritual beliefs and in African art forms that echo a lost time. The ancient bronze Ife heads of the Yoruba and the terracotta Mmaa head carvings of the Akan resonate in Paa Joe’s contemporary work, in which he references similar hand carved techniques and mastery in the making of head sculpture, miniatures, and his large scale, life-sized coffins.