Geoge Afedzi Hughes’s paintings explore shared narratives that cut across racial differences and highlight the connection of contemporary global conflicts to colonial history. Using humor and metaphor, Identity, Power, and Reconciliation juxtaposes personal narratives, historical tropes, and pop culture references in ways that address the complex and nuanced issue of racial reconciliation.
Identity, Power, and Reconciliation is part of Buffalo Art Studios 2022/23 exhibition series that reflects the belief that artists and curators can effect change through purposeful collaborations that balance community needs with artistic excellence. This series, titled Displacement: Reclaiming Place, Space, and Memory, includes new work that fosters critical dialogue on transnationalism, intersectionality, and representational justice through panel discussions, exhibitions, and student instruction. The program expands arts access to underrepresented artists and audiences through community partnerships, public forums, and hands-on workshops.
Hughes grounds his work in the history of colonialism, highlighting parallels between imperialism’s brutal past and contemporary global conflicts. His paintings interpret the spectacle of news, history, and social engagement by borrowing imagery from global popular culture including professional sports and religious rituals. During the exhibition, Hughes will also conduct community art workshops for Buffalo Arts Studio’s Jump Start students. Jump Start empowers youth who possess an exceptional interest in a career in the arts by providing access to advanced art instruction, mentorship, and professional development to pursue this interest and prepare for entry into college. The primary goals are to offer opportunities, tools, and mentorship for ALL interested youth, regardless of their ability to pay, in order to create the next generation of art leaders who will reflect the diversity of the region’s population.
Hughes will also serve as a panelist for Making Accessible, Friday, February 24, 2023 along with exhibiting artist Jodi-Lynn Maracle and Savion Mingo, co-founder of D.O.P.E. Collective. Additionally, representatives of Frontline Arts Buffalo and Starlight Studio will serve as panelists and all will discuss some of the social, economic, and physical barriers they have experienced as artists. A serious accident in 2018 left Hughes largely paralyzed from the neck down. After years of intense physical therapy, he has regained limited use of his arms and legs; however, Hughes requires skilled assistants in order to paint and teach.
George Afedzi Hughes was born and raised in Ghana and studied painting at The Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, College of Art (1985–1991) where he earned a BA in Painting and Drawing and an MA in Art Education. He relocated to the United States in 1994 and earned his MFA in Painting from Bowling Green State University (2001). Hughes is currently an Associate Professor of Painting at SUNY Buffalo. His paintings, performances, and installations have been shown in Canada, China, Denmark, Dubai, England, France, Germany, Ghana, Holland, Northern Ireland, Nigeria, Portugal, South Africa, Sweden, Uruguay, Wales and the USA. Hughes is represented in Germany by Artco Gallery, in Portugal by Influx Contemporary Gallery, in Ghana by Artists Alliance Gallery, and in the USA by Skoto Gallery.