Joel Kwadwo Acheampong is one of Ghana’s finest disabled painters. His arms are paralyzed and can hardly do anything without being supported.
He started painting in 1996, shortly after he started formal education at primary six at age 21 at Nyankyerenese in Kumasi.
A product of Jachie Pramso SHS (Mighty Japass) and Jachie Disabled Training Centre in the Ashanti region, Joel, now 36 years, paints with brush in his mouth and has over 500 works since he started painting.
He received a Grand Medal Award in 2008 from Ghana’s ex-President Kuffuor as a role model for the physically disabled.
I met Joel at his maiden solo exhibition at the Alliance Française in
Kumasi. His works include African arts; village scenes, motifs like the Akan Adinkra woven into intellectual presentation and Joel will be on hand to explain the philosophy behind his paintings.
He looks calm as he sits gently in his wheel chair and a chit-chat with him reveals the depth of his thought and the wisdom behind his paintings.
Joel bemoans the poor patronage of artworks among Ghanaians but he is inspired by the appreciation and support by foreign tourists.
He not perturbed to continue pouring his talent on his art board, resting on a personal motivation to set an example for other physically-challenged in society.
According to this fine artist, public to support and encouragement is important for people with disability to succeed in their chosen trade and vocation. He however admonished the disabled to be determined not to stay on the streets as the only survival option but be productive with their intellect to make ends-meet.
Joel’s Manager, Mark Gyedi Nyante says the national honour in visual arts has exposed Joel to the world and built his confidence to paint spectacular pieces.
His hope is that the expressed interest in Joel’s works will inspire others and translate into higher patronage of the artistic products.
“They troop to our workshop every now and then, especially secondary school students when they come on excursion… and even foreigners come a lot. So each one who sees him work, becomes very fascinated”, Mr. Nyante told me.
The exhibition which was dubbed: “When the mouth decides”, aptly describes a man who is poised to impact positively on his generation.