The way we go

in style, if it’s the last thing we do.

Coffin, 1991
Wood, paint
Kane Quaye, Ghana, 1922-1992

Kane Quaye was a carpenter who decided that a coffin could be more than a rectangular box. He began sculpting coffins in the 1980s, using fanciful forms that evoke memories of the deceased – his innovation was quickly a success in Ghana. 

”When death strikes in Ghana, those who can afford to choose a coffin, organize feasts and hire orchestras whose music helps see off the deceased in style.  Mourning turns to celebration as the coffin is carried to all the places that the deceased would want to say goodbye to.  Praise salutes, blessings, prayers and hymns fill the air as the coffin is taken to a burial site.  This manner of acknowledging death is one of many that involve art. In some communities, a figure memorializing or in honor of the deceased is buried or burned, concluding one phase of the grieving process.  In other communities, a portrait keeps the person’s image and memory alive forever.  Certain artists depict death by capturing reactions to its news; others create imaginary visions of its presence.”

Source: SAM Collections

Seattle Art Museum

June 15th, 2018