Nurturing The Arts of Ghana, 1972–1977

From Seed to Garden

Herbert M. Cole


My direct engagement with arts in Ghana occurred during four days in 1967, when I stayed with Roy and Sophie Sieber in Legon. In 1972, I spent six months researching festivals and arts of personal adornment, among other forms. In 1973, after my return to University of California, Santa-Barbara (UCSB), I held a seminar on Ghanaian art, which led to seven students traveling to Ghana for fieldwork in summer, 1974. Observing his exceptional research among the Fante, I invited one of the students, Doran Ross, to collaborate on what became a traveling exhibition and book, The Arts of Ghana, organized by the Museum of Cultural History, UCLA in 1977. Ross and I returned for more research the following two summers and one fall. We identified objects to display from European and American collections and divided up topics to write about for the book, which addressed the arts of the entire nation, a somewhat risky venture by two rather inexperienced scholars.

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