Carrie Patterson, Chair
Associate Professor of Art
Office Staff: 240-895-4225
Alumni Where are they now?
Matthew Fishel (studio art, 2001) completed an MFA at Maryland Institute College of Art in 2010. Originally interested in painting, Matthew has expanded his practice to include animation, video, installation, and digital imaging. He is a frequent contributor to RedStarKGB, an ongoing collaboration of filmmakers in Baltimore. His own film, "A Short Film Regarding Possibilities", was selected by the Maryland Film Festival in 2006. See his work at http://www.matthewfishel.com
An Analysis of the Growing Spectacle of Coffin Design in Ghana
Abstract: AThroughout West Africa, funerals are important events that convey powerful burial practices of using rituals of joy to ease sorrow. In the 1950s, the introduction of a new genre of coffin designs known as fantasy coffins served as a symbolic visual tool that reflected the dynamics of Ghanaian cultures. Coffins shaped like cocoa pod, airplane, chili pepper, and fish honored the career or accomplishments of the deceased. Today, the fantasy coffin is still gaining popularity among the working class in the Ga ethnic group. However, an alienated elite class in Ghana, deem the manner in which the coffin is used as primitive since it suggests indigenous Ghanaian religions and funerary beliefs. On the other hand, the revolutionary coffin reflects a Ga negotiation of their post-colonial identity in relations to the centrality of ancestors and burial rituals to indicate the importance of the site upon which these negotiations occur.
The coffin's ability to be appropriated for different uses and context enables it to be assigned under categorizes such as: "New Functional art," popular, and tourist arts. My project confirms that, the continual production of fantasy coffins is a result of their ability to change, absorb new ideas, and situations. These coffins recall the patrons' lives, but also reflect a positive Ga identity