Awo Tsegah is a Ghanaian visual artist, whose path crossed with You Will Find Your People Here later in the process. Long after Kihato wrote the book, after Loveday composed the music, and Stolp honed the performance, the project took on a life of its own and began its voyage north. Where Kihato’s book captured the stories and Loveday’s composition and Stolp’s performance voiced the emotional landscape of the women’s journeys, Tsegah joined the team to visualise them.
With a background in graphic design and advertising, Tsegah left education with the ambition of seeing her work splashed across billboards and reaching the eyes of the masses. But she found the work to be nothing more sophisticated than sales. She found it limiting and narrow in scope; it wasn’t her work and it wasn’t art.
Now, with unlimited freedom and the support of African women’s art collectives such as Aya Editions, Tsegah produces speculative pieces that open up alternate universes. She is interested in creating safe spaces for conversations about difficult topics; art that elicits both comfort and discomfort. The comfort necessary to allow people to speak freely and the discomfort that comes with true introspection. Her work begs the question, who gets represented in the culture? And who does the representing?
It’s this interest in representation and power that drew Tsegah into You Will Find Your People Here. A story about, for, and by women needed a woman artist who is invested in telling women’s stories in all their complexity.
Her work bridges the gap between the music and the Mobility Governance Lab data, which informs our understanding of mobility in sub-Saharan Africa more broadly. Tsegah digested and processed enormous amounts of data in order to produce maps and figures that might mean something to the individuals whose stories they represent.
Too often, she argues, data is extracted from and rendered completely incomprehensible to those they represent. Her visualisations, however, make use of African textiles—the very patterns and fabrics the women in Kihato’s book wear—as well as maps of the continent and images taken in Johannesburg to illustrate the languages spoken, the clothes worn, and the journeys made. In them, these women can see themselves, how far they’ve come and all they’ve brought with them.
Understanding the data well enough to translate its meanings was not simple. But Tsegah was driven to do right by these stories. And so she joined the ranks of women pursuing joy and splendour, through trials and disappointments.