Category Storytelling

In Conversation With Delali Cofie

Art is a powerful tool of expression. The hopes we have in the past can shape our futures. The ability to create something new or better depends on our ability to imagine it. These ideas and the prompt of what it means to dream while Black are at the core of Union Station’s art exhibit, Black Dreams and Aspirations, sponsored by TD, co-curated in partnership with MakeRoom Inc.

We were delighted to speak with Delali Cofie, one of the artists for the exhibit, about what Black Dreams and Aspirations means to him. His featured artwork, entitled Day Dreaming 2020, is an image of his friend Mansa – inspired by Delali’s admiration of Mansa’s drive and courage to chase his dreams. Amid the most uncertain time in our early adult life, to Delali it felt like his friend was standing tall against a backdrop of possibility, constructing his own horizon.

What was the inspiration behind your art showcased in the Black Dreams and Aspirations exhibit?

The image is titled Day Dreaming, and it’s an image of one of my friends that I photographed during COVID. It’s inspired by what was happening – us being in the midst of an unknown period. I was also inspired by my friend. He was full of confidence and life, creating his own reality during that time.

What message or emotion do you hope viewers take away from experiencing your artwork?

I would like people to pause for a moment, if possible, and feel inspired. And feel confident. For myself, I’m inspired by all forms of artwork. I love to go out and visit different galleries to see what people are doing and what conversations they’re having.

What inspired you to become an artist and how does your identity influence your work?

I don’t know if I can say what exactly inspired me to become an artist – I think life inspired me to become an artist. Life pushed me in that direction. I’m born and raised in Ghana, and my upbringing in West Africa inspires my work a lot. A lot of my work is about home, and becoming, and the journey of finding self. Visually I use a lot of colours, which is also inspired by home.

How would you define your artistic style?

I mostly do photography. However, for my thesis project during my degree at OCAD, I worked with a team of seamstresses to create masquerade costumes – these large lifestyle garments. I designed the pieces, and then hired a team to bring my vision to life and teach me how to make it. This was a new and exciting venture for me.

Do you think that art has the power to inspire change in society?

I feel like art is a representation of ourselves – who we are and where we’re at in life. A lot of the most powerful art is a direct representation of the reality that we live in. I think a lot of times seeing images and visuals can inspire people to want to create change.

Thank you, Delali, for taking the time to speak with us about your artwork showcased in the Black Dreams and Aspirations exhibit. You can find Delali’s art in the West Wing of Union Station from now until August. Stop by today to experience it yourself.

Click here for more information about Union’s Black History Month exhibit.