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Coffin Makers of Ghana, Theophilus Nii Anum Sawah, from collection of Ernie Wolfe

January 15 through March 9, 2007

The exhibition tells the story of the making of decorative fantasy coffins in contemporary Ghana, a practice which began in the 1950s and was popularized in the 1970s through the vision of coffin designer Seth Kane Kwei and his workshop in the coastal town of Teshi, Eastern Accra. While coffins traditionally have functioned as a mode of transportation to the afterworld, Seth Kane Kwei' coffins accent the deceased person's profession and aspirations. A farmer chooses a green onion coffin and the cattle herder wants one in the shape of a bull; the mechanic chooses an outboard motor and the rich man goes in the style of a Mercedes-Benz. These customized icons are placed in context with film and location photographs on loan from the Ernie Wolfe Gallery, Los Angeles.