Anansi Auction Press Release, 2015

West African Art Auction to Benefit
Ghanaian High School Students

April 1, 2015

Kathryn Roe
Director, Anansi Education or 360-­305­-8342

Alisa Formway Roe
Assistant Director (US), Anansi Education or 503­-286-­7562

Seattle, Washington — Anansi Education has announced its 11th annual dinner and auction of West African art for the benefit of Ghanaian secondary school students, to be held in Seattle on May 9 at the Mt. Baker Community Club.

The auction curator, West African art expert Kathryn Roe, says she looks for articles that have been used in ceremonies or served a household function.  Among this year’s dozens of offerings, collectors will find a Kru “many­eyed” mask of the type that inspired Picasso’s Cubist art; a rare Bwoom helmet mask; a Gabon triangle mask; an Ewe river god; a carved Baule spirit spouse; a Baule container used in the marriage ceremony; and hand-­forged  silver and carnelian jewelry from the nomadic Tuareg.

A silent auction prior to the main event will feature fine art, fabric, jewelry, and contemporary interpretations of tradition, such as a whimsical Ghanaian beaded rooster.

Anansi Education was founded, developed, and is currently directed by Ms. Roe, of Bellingham, USA, and Mpeasem, Ghana. A ceramicist and instructor at Whatcom Community College (1971-­2007), Ms. Roe spent a 1997 sabbatical in West Africa. That trip changed her life.

Ms. Roe, 80, says she fell in love there — with the people, colors and culture she discovered.

“I went to Africa in the first place to study art. Being there changed my view of art. It’s interwoven with the culture to an amazing degree.”

Ms. Roe  didn’t stop with a changed perspective; she realized that she could change other’ lives, too. When she decided in 2005 to enlist members of her family to sponsor the high school education of six teens from the village of Mpeasem, “The art was a natural method to make Anansi visible to prospective sponsors.”

Ms. Roe returns to Ghana for several months every year, but collecting art for the auction is secondary to the needs of “her” students. She reviews scholarship applications, pays school fees, and smooths hundreds of bumps along the unfamiliar path through secondary school.

“Our primary goal is to help students, both boys and girls, who would otherwise be at home or in menial jobs after junior high school, to attend high school. We are good at assessing need and potential of village junior high school graduates.”

Given the opportunity, Anansi students have worked hard to realize that potential and complete high school. Some have excelled beyond Ms. Roe’s hopes for them. One graduate is now in his third year of medical school; another  girl entered law school on scholarship last fall. Seventeen Anansi graduates are  in nursing school. They are already giving back to their community, too. Many are teaching while they earn advanced degrees in education. Last year, graduates formed an alumni association to provide support for the transition from high school to the job market or further education.

Ms. Roe couldn’t be more pleased by this development. “Our impact maybe isn’t as perfect an education as if we were to try to build  a school, but our influence is greater.”

  • Since 2005, Anansi has grown to its current 64 students attending seven different Ghanaian government high schools.
  • The auction and donations have served to fund the high school educations of  204 students in rural Ghana.
  • Previews of some auction items are available at the ticket sales link.
  • Evening begins at 5:30 and includes wine reception, dinner and dessert.
  • Early­-bird tickets available for $50 at Universe; $65 after April 18.­education­11th­annual­auction-
  • Mt Baker Community Club, 2811 Mt Rainier Dr S, Seattle, WA 98144.