Duke Kwadwo Yeboah is an African creative on a life-journey towards better understanding himself spiritually. He’s a nature lover and student of life who loves to explore new knowledge, and employs different forms of creative arts (visual, poetry, storytelling, photography and videography), all in service of self-understanding.
How did you discover a passion for the arts?
I went through a period of existential identity crisis, realising I didn't know much about my African heritage, history, culture and spirituality. I became a seeker of knowledge and left my banking job on Wall Street to study theology at Union Theological Seminary. After graduation, I worked as an organic farmer to learn from nature, and afterwards studied with some African Historian teachers. All with the aim of finding my purpose and understanding myself better as a human being. That journey led me to exploring and discovering the connections between art, spirituality and Nature's creative force we call God. This quest for understanding, would often result in deeper contemplation, which would then come out as some form of artistic expression. It began with writing and poetry and in time became photograph and video, and later paintings and drawings. My passion for the arts was essentially birthed from my quest to understand spirituality and myself, as an African.
What has been your favourite thing about working in the arts?
Being able to experience the healing power of the creative force when making art. The entire process from envisioning something to actually producing it, is always a journey, which feels healing, and allows me to connect and partner with Divine creative energy. This process allows me to both grow and heal psychologically.. As it helps me better understand who I am, whilst allowing me to get in touch with a greater force within, which directs the creation. Apart from this, I would say, being around different artists and experiencing different art forms is also something I really enjoy. Because it usually expands my insight and imagination, whilst inspiring me as well.
How do you stay creatively inspired?
I explore new ideas by reading, and educating myself on different subjects that expand my consciousness, knowledge base and imagination. I'm an adventurer at heart, who enjoys exploring new ideas and concepts from different fields of knowledge.This always inspires new contemplations within myself, which then inspire new creations. I essentially plunge myself into new realms, and produce new works based on my many reflections and contemplations.
What reasons influenced the choice of art media that you work with?
The simple answer would be life. I'm an explorative creative, so whatever creative tool I have access to, and life-situation I find myself is what usually influences/informs my choice of media. In addition to that, I would say it also depends on the idea I have, and which form of media best helps to convey that idea with utmost clarity.
What has your most recent or favourite project been so far?
I would say my collection -"A LONG WAY FROM HOME". Primarily because the message touches on something so dear to me at the heart of my self-discovery as an African spiritual being. And it was created quite spontaneously from a deep feeling without a clear plan, yet the overall message of the collection emerged seamlessly. The collection is not only a metaphor to my personal life journey in how reconnecting with my African heritage brought me greater self-understanding and self-love. It is also a message for the ages, to all Africans on the continent and in the diaspora, to return home to their true nature, spirituality and cultural heritage, without shame, because that's where their power resides. In that unapologetic self-love, we find who we truly are.
To view the exhibition, click here.
On average, how often do you organise exhibitions?
To be honest, I can't say much, as this would be one of my first exhibitions. Because I've always simply created for fun and for the love of it, without much intention to showcase or organise exhibitions until recently. However, I hope to organise a lot more in the coming years.
How do you promote your exhibitions?
At the moment, through simple networking on social media, and word of mouth. Exhibitions are a new reality for me so I hope to learn more about promotion and all things related, along the way.
Tell me about the exhibition(s) you're displaying on Oarbt. What are the primary themes of the exhibition(s)?
The first exhibition is - “A LONG WAY FROM HOME”. It's a critique of the looting of spiritual artefacts from Africa, stored in museums in the West World. The looting of African artefacts has profound implications on Africans, as it removes our historical, cultural and spiritual items, disconnecting us from our cultural, historical and spiritual heritage, and ultimately self-knowledge, self-belief and true identity. The collection is also a metaphor of my life journey and how I awakened to who I was culturally and spiritually, whilst living a long way from home, in Harlem. It is therefore a collection to raise awareness on how the splitting of Africans from their historic, cultural, and spiritual artefacts has profound implications on their identity as a people, leaving them lost and clueless about who they are and what they are capable of. This is both spiritually and psychologically damaging to the people, as without that clear identity they can't even operate in their proper paradigm, established by their ancestors.
The second collection is - “MESSAGES FROM THE ANCESTORS” - which is a series of selected works, which carry symbolic messages from Ghanaian ancestral teachings commonly known as Adinkra Symbols. The symbols are repurposed in the different art pieces, to reignite the messages left by the ancestors, for our current generation and those to come. To ensure we don't forget who we are, as well as the wisdom-teaching, and legacy left by our great African Ancestors.
How has Oarbt provided an effective way of showcasing your art?
Oarbt has been revolutionary in the sense that I can buy anywhere in the world and curate a gallery space. A gallery that is accessible worldwide by viewers are, at any time of the day, as long as they have access to the internet. It offers me the seamless ability to upload my work from my computer, and make connections with millions all over the world. And as a digital artist, this is a dream, because thanks to Oarbt and the internet, I am not restricted by space or time.
Of all the artworks in your exhibition, which is the most meaningful to you and why?
This is a very tough question to answer, as they all mean so much to me in different ways. But if I had to force myself to answer this question, I would say it is the piece called "RETURN TO CREATIVITY" from the exhibition "MESSAGES FROM THE ANCESTORS". I think this was the fourth digital art piece I made, whilst playing with symbols, shapes and colours with no real plan. When it was finished and I saw what the piece was saying through its symbology, it felt as though I was being given a message from the unseen realms beyond. And this truly inspired me to keep creating art even if I did not know where it was heading. I felt the piece was telling me to return to creativity, to keep creating, whilst on my journey seeking self-understanding. Long story short, I listened to that message, and here I am a couple of years later as an artist having this exhibition. This piece was therefore instrumental in my transformation into the artist I am today.
Do you believe that digital exhibitions such as Oarbt are capable of providing an immersive and enjoyable experience?
Yes definitely. Oarbt is simple to use and navigate. But even more importantly, being able to access it directly through your device allows for an intimate experience which can definitely make it immersive and enjoyable. Plus the ability to include sound within the exhibition rooms, adds another layer that can provide a different experience from other exhibitions, be it physical or virtual.
To view the exhibition, click here.