Paa Joe | Artist in Residence

The DIA, in collaboration with the Detroit Public Schools Community District, will host internationally-renowned Ghanaian fantasy coffin artist Joseph Ashong, known as Paa Joe, for a month-long art residency at the museum.

In Ghana, West Africa, artists craft fantasy coffins in a variety of shapes to bury the dead in a coffin that represents the job they did while alive, believing that the deceased will continue his or her profession in the afterlife.

From Sept. 23 to Oct. 21, Paa Joe and two assistants will build a figurative coffin from a motif selected by art students at Renaissance High School, demonstrating his unique wood sculpting and joinery technique in full view of visitors. The finished painted coffin will be installed in the museum.

Paa Joe will be working in the DIA’s Prentis Court Tuesdays–Sundays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The program is free with museum admission, which is free for residents of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties.

On Sunday, Oct. 21 at 2 p.m., the museum auxiliary group Friends of African and African American Art will honor Paa Joe’s lifetime achievements with its 2018 African Art Recognition Award at the DIA’s Danto Lecture Hall. The event is free and open to the public.