Serious Play: Photographs from Ghana
Full of the spirit of fun and play that children everywhere share
Spokane Nonprofit connects NorthWest and West Africa through Serious Play
Mmofra means “children” in one of the major languages of Ghana, West Africa. Spokane-based nonprofit Friends of Mmofra shares with its international partner organization Mmofra Foundation, a mission to promote culture, play and site stewardship for the benefit of children within community.
Exhibition and Catalogue Launch:
Friends of Mmofra and the Brickwall Gallery will host the exhibition Serious Play: Photographs from Ghana from May 4- June 3 at the Brickwall Gallery, 530 Main Street, Spokane, on the skywalk level. The opening reception is on May 4, 2012, 4-9pm, with live music, light snacks, educational play stations, and information on how to support the Friends of Mmofra, Spokane.
The occasion serves as the inaugural public event of Friends of Mmofra, as well as the release of the first in a new series of catalogues from a unique collection of historic black and white photographs of Ghana taken between the 1950’s and 1970’s. They constitute a compelling visual medium through which Friends of Mmofra intends to spark positive cultural engagement in both the Pacific Northwest and West African communities.
This year the nonprofit will focus on two projects with its partner in Ghana, Mmofra Foundation: the continued restoration and public use of the Willis Bell Photo Archive, and advocacy for the purposeful design of open, urban playspace. Images of children in Ghana from the archive serve as the meaningful intersection between these projects.
“While there have been decades-long business, educational and church links between Ghana and Spokane, Friends of Mmofra represents an era of fresh and mutually rewarding engagement with a part of the world we are far more likely to think about in terms of charity rather than parity”, states the organization’s president Amowi Phillips, adjunct professor and cultural consultant, in a presentation at the March 2012 TEDxStGeorgesSchool forum. The nonprofit has spearheaded innovative approaches to voluntary service with student groups in a number of area institutions including Gonzaga Law School, Mead High School, Spokane Falls Community College, St Georges School and Whitworth University.
Photographer: Ex-patriated American Willis E. Bell (1924-1999) was a leader in documentary and commercial photography in Ghana in the 20 years after its independence from Great Britain. There is a regional connection through Bell’s father, William Bell of Moscow, Idaho. The Bell parents were missionaries in Burma where the photographer was born, and later in India. Willis Bell was educated at Woodstock School, India, the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and Yale University. He traveled widely before settling in Ghana.