Sunday, October 10, 2010

Art at Work: Works of Art

I'm not an artist. In fact, my artistic creativity is in negative numbers. I do appreciate art though. Well, I should add that 30 minutes in any museum is bound to drive me crazy!One thing I find fascinating is how the Parasitology Department where I'm currently working in is adorned with art work. Not just any art work but images of parasites and vectors captured on film. This is quite in contrast to the blank and bare walls that stare back at me in my own department in Ghana. This has really gotten me thinking, doesn't a little art work in the work-place add colour and warmth?  

Aside from the parasitic art, if you wander throughout the hospital where the department is, you find wonderful permanent thought-provoking art pieces on display on every single wall. These are great for a hospital since hospitals are always associated with sterility, sadness and death. 

Aside from the permanent pieces of art on display, there is also an art gallery on the hospital's ground floor that houses temporary exhibitions all year round. This month's exhibition stopped me in my tracks in awe a couple of weeks ago. Among the art pieces on display, are 4 vivid beautiful pictures of black children. Funnily enough, I first saw the images just days after watching the Kings of Leon video for Radioactive where the band appear to be out picnicking with black children in uniforms in rural Tennessee (??). I seriously began to wonder if I missed the memo  saying "Attention World, it is time to celebrate Black children in weird and wonderful ways!"

Later I found that the art pieces in the hospital are the works of  Dutch artist Ruud van Empel. His official website has many more images. I am completely at a loss  about what to think of his art work. Are these Black children being objectified? Why does this art leave me a little uncomfortable? Regardless, I still think Ghanaian workplaces could all benefit from colour and art. 

Ruud van Empel's more than eerie pieces on display at the hospital ground floor


Maya Mame said...

Hm... I don't know, why do I think of gollywogs when I see those pictures? In some photos they are more blick-a-black (excuse the phrase) than I have ever seen in reality. Like you, I am not sure of his intentions, but somehow still feel offended.

As for hospitals and departments, it's a great idea, especially to relieve some stress and anxiety. I still feel traumatised by some hospital walls (painted in psychedelic seventies colours) in Gothenburg from when I was about three!

Abena Serwaa said...

@Maya Mame, sadly, you are right; there is some golliwog quality about the pictures..The facial features of the children may not be not exaggerated but they fail to capture the warm, diverse skin tones of African children. All the children in the portraits appear to have an extremely rich blue-black skin tone. There is nothing wrong with that but it does seem unrealistic and ends up giving the artwork a caricature/golliwog quality.I may be wrong. Maybe all the children used for the portraits were very dark-skinned.

Psychedelic seventies colours?! I think that's taking therapeutic colours too far!

Robert K.N. said...

Hi Abena!

We just introduced a blog hosting portal focused on the growing Ghanaian online community. Please take a look. We know you already have a great blog going here but we would like you to seriously consider sharing your insights and photos with our growing online community by creating a blog on

Best regards,

novisi said...

Abena, you an artist!!! you've got that sense real good

Abena Serwaa said...

@Robert K.N. thanks for stopping by. I will take a look.

@Novisi; you are a poet and a flatterer...thank you:)