Photo by O'Neal Harrison '23
Last month, students in the National Art Honor Society (NAHS) gathered after school at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, to tour and discuss Amoako Boafo: Soul of Black Folks, a display of paintings created by the 38-year-old Ghanaian artist, Amoako Boafo. As the exhibition’s title suggests, the paintings are portraits of black people, including the artist himself, his friends and family, and even celebrities like Beyoncé and Jay-Z.
Students, accompanied by some of their parents, explored the show with museum docent Janice Warren, who asked questions to prompt reflection and discussion. When Warren explained that the paintings in the exhibition were created between 2016 and 2022, the group recognized how the artist’s style had evolved over that period of time. In contrast to his older work, Boafo’s newer paintings have simpler compositions and bolder, brighter colors, which puts more focus on the figures. “I liked seeing Amoako Boafo’s progression throughout his career,” shared Callahan Baker ’24. “I learned how the colors and background can influence the theme of the art.”
Another aspect of Boafo’s work that intrigued the group is how he paints the figures’ skin with his fingers. As a result, the subjects’ bodies are a web of moving lines. “The skin was made from all kinds of brown textures and a bit of blue,” observed O’Neal Harrison ’23. “I learned that even one of the most childish forms of painting can be used to create stunning works of art.”
Boafo’s work not only challenges traditional painting techniques but also ideas about race, identity, and representation. NAHS faculty sponsor Lauren Cunningham was inspired to organize the event after she saw the show this summer. “I was really moved by Boafo’s art, and I wanted students to have an opportunity to take a closer look and explore the deeper meaning.” Mia Tuckwood ’23 attended the tour and commented afterwards, “His art made me think, which is what art is supposed to do. [It was a] very cool experience.”
(left to right) Mia Tuckwood ‘23, James Carter ‘23, Caroline Lile ‘24, Callahan Baker ‘24, McKenna Foteh ‘24, Lucy Katz ‘24, William Citizen ‘23, Townsen Thomas ‘24, O’Neal Harrison ’23