SEEN AND HEARD: An exhibition allowing girls to express themselves through art

 

Picture taken by a young girl for the exhibition ‘Seen And Heard’

 

Art is a powerful storytelling medium to express ourselves without using words. The ‘Seen And Heard’ exhibit which took place in Accra on December 1st showcased the photographic, literary and crafted talents of participating schools from The Girls’ Empowerment Program (GEP) in collaboration with WiLDAF Ghana (Women in Law and Development in Africa) and Crossroads International. Since its inception in 2012, the Girls’ Empowerment Program has expanded to working in eleven schools throughout the Greater Accra, Central and Volta Regions.The program conducts community outreach activities and workshops covering topics including human rights, economic empowerment, confidence building and now art therapy.

Initiated with support from Crossroader Sierra Nallo, the collection of images showcased solo and group portraits taken by the GEP members. With one camera, Sierra visited the eleven schools and had each member act as photographer and model to experience their technical and creative skills. The communication, creative writing and photography workshops conducted by Crossroads volunteers and peer coordinators have inspired all voices in the group to be heard and valued. The stories of young girls which often go untold now have a powerful platform to be showcased. The team in Ghana created a safe place for the members to express themselves and to share their experience using their own artistic voice.

 

Picture taken by a schoolmate representing two young members of the Girls Empowerment Club in Ghana

The expressions of the girls in the portraits convey a range of emotions as they are complex, beautiful beings. In some photos, the tone is more serious; although young in age, many of the members have had life experiences beyond their years. In other images in the series, the innocence of youth coupled with joy and great future aspiration is captured, whereas other bourgeoning photographers gravitated more to abstract imagery.

Key stakeholders, community members, other students had the opportunity to witness firsthand the outstanding efforts put forth by the GEP members. The event benefited future artistic endeavours of the program including the supply of materials, mentorship and equipment.  The creative exchange of knowledge in the workshops provides an alternative means of empowering our future leaders, whilst strengthening community ties and cultivating an essential dialogue on Girls’ and Women’s rights in Ghana and beyond.

We hope to take this exhibition to Canada soon, so the spirits of these Ghanaian girls can be seen and their voices can be heard across borders.