Paa Joe: Gates of No Return

Georgia, United States

July 18, 2020 - August 16, 2020 Exhibition July 18, 2020 August 16, 2020 Europe/London Paa Joe: Gates of No Return High Museum of Art, 1280 Peachtree St, NE Atlanta, 30309: Georgia, United States

Event Details

Artist and master craftsman Joseph Tetteh-Ashong (Ghanaian, born 1947), also known as Paa Joe, is the most celebrated figurative coffin maker of his generation. In the tradition of figurative coffins—or abeduu adekai (which means “proverb boxes”)—the structures represent the unique lives of the dead. This exhibition comprises a series of large-scale, painted wood sculptures commissioned in 2004 and 2005 that represent architectural models of Gold Coast castles and forts, which served as way stations for more than six million Africans sold into slavery and sent to the Americas and the Caribbean between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. Once they were forced through the “Gates of No Return,” these enslaved people started an irreversible and perilous journey during which many died. Relying on traditional techniques and materials, Joe crafts his sculptures to represent vessels ferrying the dead into the afterlife that speak to spirits separated from bodies in trauma.

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