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Rewarding Creativity: Ghanaian Artist Joseph Hoggar wins 2023 Kuenyehia Prize for Contemporary Art

The ceremony was a poignant moment as each recipient received not only recognition but also substantial monetary awards, with the winner taking home $5,000, the 1st runner-up receiving $3,000, and the 2nd runner-up being awarded $2,000.

In an elegant showcase of contemporary artistic brilliance, the Kuenyehia Prize for Contemporary Arts Awards and Exhibition once again graced the art space, spotlighting the exceptional talents of emerging West African artists by celebrating and rewarding their contributions to the world of contemporary art.

“The Kuenyehia Trust for Contemporary Art, conceived by Professor Elikem Nutifafa Kuenyehia in 2014, stands as an enduring testament to the support of mid-career and emerging artists,” notes Program Coordinator Isaac Nii Otu Boateng Ashalley. “At its core, the Kuenyehia Prize, our flagship program, is a beacon illuminating the talents of West African artists. Initially, it used to be exclusively for Ghanaian Artists. Still, in 2020, it was expanded to all of West Africa, and we started receiving submissions from artists aged 18-40 years.”

Joseph Kojo Hogga

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Joseph Kojo Hoggar [Ghana] won the first prize with a piece he made with inspiration from an old picture of his parents’ wedding in the 1970s

The event unfolded in a venue transformed into a gallery of beautiful and colorful art installations. The pinnacle of the event was the awards ceremony, where the winners of the Kuenyehia Prize were unveiled.

Joseph Kojo Hoggar from Ghana was notable amongst the recipients, whose winning piece drew inspiration from an old picture of his parents’ wedding in the 1970s. Tobi Onabolu and Badru Taofeek Abiodun, who were both from Nigeria, emerged as the 1st and 2nd runners-up, respectively.

The ceremony was a poignant moment as each recipient received recognition and substantial monetary awards, with the winner taking home $5,000, the 1st runner-up receiving $3,000, and the 2nd runner-up being awarded $2,000. This financial support acknowledges their artistic talents and provides tangible encouragement to pursue their passion.

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“I’m happy to win this prize because this is my first time trying something like this. So, I want to say thank you to Kuenyehia. For the winning work, I got inspiration from an old picture of my mom and dad when they married in the 1970s. When I saw the picture, I decided to appropriate it with how old they are now, and implementing 1970’s classical art,” Joseph Kojo Hoggar, winner of this year’s Kuenyehia Prize, said, expressing his joy and gratitude.

“My family has been supportive of this whole art thing of mine, and I’m the last of eight kids and the only one pushing for art. I’m looking forward to more opportunities opening up for me and developing as an artist to create more work for the art world and the world in general,” he added.

A Former Founding Trustee, Afia Owusu-Afriyie, shed light on the genesis of the Kuenyehia Trust’s commitment to supporting artists.

“It started because Elikem Nutifafa Kuenyehia loved art and collecting, and at the time, hotels would host art exhibits. He would go and find works he liked, and later, when he reached out to the artists, he discovered that many were no longer pursuing art due to financial unsustainability. Thus, he decided to invest in artists’ dreams and passions. We’ve had incredible world-renowned artists, with El Anatsui and Ablade Glover serving as jury chairs,” Afia said.

“The award isn’t only financially beneficial,” continues Owusu-Afriyie, “the winners also go through our mentorship program. We cover investing, legal rights as an artist, representation, and accounting. We provide them with tools to make informed decisions.”

Dela Anyah, last year’s second runner-up, also shared his experience.

“Winning second runner-up has helped me as an artist because the prize money was helpful since my practice is very material-heavy. It affirmed everything I was doing. The medium for my art is using inner tubes and tires, which isn’t common, so winning an award solidified my practice. Winning also helped me gain visibility and made it easier to enter art spaces,” he said.

The Kuenyehia Prize for Contemporary Arts Awards and Exhibition served to honor contemporary artists’ outstanding achievements and inspire future generations to embrace their passion as artists and believe in themselves and their dreams of creative artistic expression.

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