Name: Renicha (Nish) McCree
Occupation: Advisor in the field of International Development
Location: Accra, Ghana
When did you buy your first piece of art, and what was it?
I bought my first piece of art in an elementary school auction, which was over 35 years ago. As an adult, I started to seriously buy art for the love of it in 2013. I had the great opportunity to visit the studio of Rushern Baker IV, and I bought 2 of his paintings that day.
How many pieces of art do you currently have in your private collection?
Between contemporary art, 20th century African sculptures and masks and vintage, handmade ceramics and textiles, I have around 80 to 100 pieces.
What drew you to art collecting, and what does contemporary art by artists of African heritage mean to you?
When I was a little girl, I watched my paternal grandmother make her very simple home a treasure trove of handmade art—much of which she made, like her enormous collection of ceramics and quilts. She always had dozens of mini-collections of art carefully curated on tables, in armoires, and even draped around door frames. Her natural love of beauty and art helped me fall in love with the culture of collecting “art”, most importantly for the intrinsic value of the thing.
To this point, I was primed early in life to value the work of art by artists of African heritage, and that, of course, included work by African Americans. As an adult, I became intentional about the study, serious admiration and investment in contemporary art by artists of African heritage. I easily relate the art of these artists to my life, personal history and sense of what I find beautiful. I feel like the work of artists of African heritage reflects back to me parts of myself and culture, and I love that connection. I mostly collect art now to help preserve contemporary art for the next generation and ensure that I can enjoy beautiful, thought-provoking art in Ghana, where I live.
Which piece of art in your collection is your favorite, if any, and why?
Each work gives me a different experience when I interact with it. Depending on the day, one work may thrill me in an unexpected way, and at that moment, I think I am so blessed to live with that work of art. That said, if you must have an answer, at the moment, I enjoy my paintings by Amoako Boafo and Isshaq Ismail--both Ghanaian artists.
Name three living artists you would love to include in your collection in the future.
Why not just go for the top 5? I would include Kerry James Marshall, El Anatsui, Sam Gilliam, Mark Bradford and David Hammons or Julie Mehretu, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye or Faith Ringgold. I dream big and obviously cannot fairly answer this question.
Name three late artists you would love to include in your collection in the future.
I would be so happy to live with art by Norman Lewis, Ed Clark and William H. Johnson.
If you could have dinner with any artist, dead or alive, who would it be, and why?
I would be overjoyed to have dinner with Kerry James Marshall. He is a lovely, freethinking artist who is not afraid to express his creative genius. I would count it a real blessing to share a meal with him and talk about the creative muse, black love, which he paints with brilliance and growing up in Alabama, as I am also an Alabama native.
What about an artist and their work attracts you the most?
I am attracted to the way an artist pushes her/his practice outside of any confines. Work that attracts me has a sincerity and sense of freeness of expression. I find this unlimited kind of creativity to be a great inspiration to me, and it helps me think about the way I want to create something of beauty to give to the world.
Is there a particular theme to your collection?
Yes, so far, I mostly connect with emerging artists from African countries and support their art practice. I just love the joy of making meaningful and trustworthy relationships with these emerging artists and watching them unfold their genius over time.
What advice would you give to a new/ budding art collector who wants to start a collection?
Here are my top five pieces of advice: Discover what you like and study and learn about it--really go down the rabbit hole to deeply gain knowledge. Find a mentor collector friend to help you understand the art of collecting. If you can’t find anyone, start your own small group of art collectors. Buy art primarily for the passion and love of it and not for the potential profit. Realize there is an imposed hierarchy in the "art world," so don’t be naive about it. Finally, find joy in collecting art and have fun with it.
What advice would you give to unknown and emerging artists who want to attract collectors and art patrons?
Don’t be afraid to reach out and connect with collectors and art patrons. I find that most collectors really enjoy having personal relationships with artists. It’s so much more meaningful that way.
By: Raphael Dapaah