Yaw Owusu creates sculptural installations that repurpose found objects, shifting the value of otherwise-worthless materials into things of beauty. Built from countless pieces of loose change known as “pesewa” coins, his work activates urgent questions around economic and political independence in contemporary Ghana. First introduced as an attempt to cure the countries economy’s inflation in 2007, these small copper coins have almost no value in today’s financial climate, enabling the artist to use them as a primary material. Typical of Owusu’s approach to working with local agencies to develop his work, the artist acquired the coins by negotiating with Ghana’s banks – a bureaucratic process that is as important to the artist’s practice as the final works. Created as structural works that embrace the same organic qualities of their materials his sculptures have incorporated as much as twenty-four thousand coins, transforming under various conditions and processes. The bronzed coins undergo various natural and chemical treatments, using salt from the south coasts and vinegar from the mid and eastern regions to reveal their age and quality.
Owusu studied at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi, graduating with a BA Fine Arts degree in 2016. His works have been included in exhibitions including: 16:16 The Collection, Gallery 1957 (2016); Cornfields in Accra, Museum of Science and Technology, Accra (2016); Spirit Robot, Chale Wote Street Art Festival, Jamestown, Accra (2016); Silence Between the Lines, Prime Motors Showroom, Kumasi (2015); The Gown Must Go To Town, Museum of Science and Technology, Accra (2015). In 2016, Owusu undertook a three month residency at Galerie 102, Berlin. His work is the permanent collection of Musée d’Art Contemporain Africain Al Maaden (MACAAL), Marrakech.