Artist Interview : Babs Mohammed

Posted by Jenni Kirby - January 07 2021




Babs Mohammed grew up in Northern Ghana, in the city of Tamale. Early on Babs was part of a dancing and drumming group at the Center for National Culture in Tamale, Ghana. During this time, he learned traditional African dance and drumming. “My dad was a Chief in town and he was very well known. I wanted to be a part of a program that would celebrate and honor my culture.”


Though Babs has since immigrated to the United States, his heritage remains a major influence in his life and artworks. “One day I was with friends and thought back about drumming and was inspired to create the painting Drummer.” The painting is a self portrait, depicting Babs in traditional dress while drumming.


Most of Babs paintings are inspired by memories from his life in Ghana. The painting Takai Dancers Viewed from Above shows a traditional, royal, celebratory dance. However, Babs took an artistic approach with the subject matter – “I wanted to paint them from above, so they look like flowers.”


An avid storyteller, Babs aspires to capture the viewer with striking imagery. The painting Women Carrying Water was also inspired by a memory from his childhood. “Growing up, it was hard to get clean water in the city. On the weekends, when we were out of school, there was no clean water to drink.” Babs recalls women walking for miles to find clean water and bringing it back in large containers. This memory became even more poignant after immigrating to America, where clean water is abundant. “Here we run water and don’t even think about it – I wanted to make a painting to remember that feeling.”


Babs intends to continuing creating art, and drumming, to celebrate and remember his life in Ghana. “I want to use art to show how other people think and live in the world.”