December 2, 2008

I Wanna Ghana Book!

I had the good fortune to see a great book arts show in New York recently.  In the summer of 2005 a wonderful pop-up book artist from Chicago named Shawn Sheehy traveled to Ghana to help create a paper mill at the Abba House Cultural Center in Accra.  Since that time the good people at Abba House have been teaching local children how to create handmade paper from plants and materials found in the area.  Once the paper is finished, it is made into cards, Coptic bound journals, personal storybooks, ornaments and other paper creations.

I was able to see many of these works in the Project Room at the Phoenix Gallery in Manhattan where handmade books and the cards stood on pedestals before large photos of the young kids engaged in making the paper.  In one corner of the galler y stood a large tree adorned with colorful paper ornaments folded in an accordion-like fashion.  After speaking with Linda Handler, the lovely director of the non-profit center for the arts, I learned that all the proceeds from the show went to the school expenses for the budding Ghanaian artists.  Well I was sold!  In short order, I had all my holiday shopping complete, plus Linda gave me literature on the Abba House and Cross Cultural Collaborative so that their inspiring story can accompany the wonderful works of art.

To see slideshows of the paper mill at the Abba House check out:

To keep tabs on Shawn, see the newly launched website at:

To learn more about the Phoenix Gallery go to:


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