Allison Stroh '03
Ghana, West Africa, Peace Corps Art TeacherThe question wasn't as simple as I had imagined. After a few minutes, a few hands slowly rose. The first one answered, "Art is anything that God created." The second answered, "Art is something that communicates something-like drum beats." I didn't understand, so he demonstrated by pounding a beat on his desk. All 60 students identified it immediately: that was the drum beat to indicate it was time to come in from the farm and rest. My question had been, "What is Art?" I'm told now that there is no word for "art" in any of the 70 African languages spoken in Ghana.
As a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ghana, West Africa from 2003 to 2005, my assignment was to teach high school students art and art history. I taught my students traditional topics such as Renaissance art history and figure drawing. They taught me that in Ghana the color blue symbolizes love. They also taught me the meaning of their beautiful Adinkra symbols, which illustrate profound Ghanaian proverbs. I used to think I knew the answer to "What is art?", but I forget what that is now.
Allison Stroh '03 currently work as an Art Therapist at Outside the Lines Studio in Medford, MA making art with adults who have disabilities.