State Street District

The Ann Arbor State Street District Neighborhood Association assists in planning for the future to provide a clean, safe, and vital neighborhood. The State Street District is home to the Ann Arbor Art Fair.

2018 Featured Artist

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William Kwamenah-Poh

William was born in Ghana and came to the United States when his father came to teach history at Talladega College in Alabama. While he was there, he was introduced to the work of James Huff, who was an artist teaching at the college. William says; “He painted huge intricately detailed portraits of African American women that blew me away! They were so detailed, yet simplistic. I was lit on fire!”

William works in opaque water color known as, gouache. It is in this work that we can see how William is able to capture such strong emotions in his subjects. These emotions were particularly linked to images of women. So, we were curious to know how he was able to do that. 

“You know how you listen to a song by a particular artist and there’s so much emotion and all that. Or an actor who seems to communicate so well to you, and they come across as real knowing clearly, they are acting. You tear up and get all caught up in it. Something is stirred and awakened inside you. That bond is what we all try to bridge, a way to really share a meaningful message. As artists, we’re supposed to question society and be the pillars of social order. Being an artist is not a part time job; it’s my life and so I put my heart and soul into it. And I think that’s how I’m able to share and show emotion in my work. Sometimes it’s something you can teach or learn, but for me, I think being passionate as a person it comes through. I talk to my paintings as I’m working and try to stay where I first felt good about my subjects and stay there. At the end of the day we’re all humans so if I can be a channel that lets you see a little bit of someone’s humanity, then I think, I’ve really bridged the gap”. 

- William Kwamena-Poh

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