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Coffin in the Form of a Nike Sneaker

Paa Joe

Arts of Africa

In some regions of Ghana, it is typical for the shape and style of a coffin to make a personal statement by reflecting the profession, interests, or characteristics of the deceased. The mother of many children might have a coffin in the shape of a hen with chicks. In this case, it is a Nike sneaker, a symbol of status and modernity in the late twentieth century. As people make the transition from one world to the unknown next, an object (a coffin) representing another object (in this case, a shoe) provides comforting familiarity.
MEDIUM Wood, pigment, metal, fabric
DATES mid–1990s
DIMENSIONS 29 x 80 x 22 1/2 in. (73.7 x 203.2 x 57.2 cm)  (show scale)
COLLECTIONS Arts of Africa
CREDIT LINE Gift of Lynne and Robert Rubin in honor of William C. Siegmann
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION The object is a coffin with a lid in the shape of a right-foot sneaker. It is made from pieced wooden panels. The coffin and lid are joined by two hinges at the proper right side and a yellow fabric strip attached to the coffin on the proper left corner of the lid. The exterior surfaces of both the coffin and the lid are painted. A red fabric is attached on the interior bottom of the coffin and the underside of the lid. The sides of the interior are padded with sponge foam that is covered with a yellow fabric. The edge of the lid's interior and the edge of the yellow fabric on the coffin are covered with a decorative fabric tape. Representing a shoe lace are twelve painted wooden sticks, each attached with nails at either end. The object is structurally in fair condition. A number of areas overall exhibit losses, breaks, splits, cracks and dents. There are surface stains and paint losses. The interior fabrics are in good condition.
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION Paa Joe (Ghanaian, born 1945). Coffin in the Form of a Nike Sneaker, mid–1990s. Wood, pigment, metal, fabric, 29 x 80 x 22 1/2 in. (73.7 x 203.2 x 57.2 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Lynne and Robert Rubin in honor of William C. Siegmann, 2000.71. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 2000.71_PS6.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 2000.71_PS6.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2011
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