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A deeper look at Peter Owusu-Ansah, the 2021 Murray & Marvelle Koffler Founder's Award Recipient

April 20, 2022

By now, we hope Peter Owusu-Ansah is a household name amongst our beloved TOAF community ✨ Today, we would like to provide you with deeper insight into his work and world. 

As you know, Peter received TOAF’s most cherished award at the milestone 60th Anniversary Fair last year — the Murray & Marvelle Koffler Founder's Award. His dynamic concentric squares, vibrant colour explorations, and rich visual language are infused by his passion to advocate for Deaf artists.

Here, we are sharing the judges' reflections on the selection process. Peter is also sharing the inspirations and influences behind his work in his own words, as well as what he is working on for TOAF61. We wanted to bring back this excerpt from Peter’s poignant acceptance speech, a lasting memory of the joy and impact of our collaboration together. 

We are looking forward to seeing Peter along with a wonderful roster of artists this Summer at Nathan Phillips Square. We hope you are too! 


Reflections from our Judges

Squares like Flower, Peter Owusu-Ansah, 2021, Digital Artwork, Photoshop, Artbox Frame.

"The vibrancy of his colours, his precision and process, has attracted our attention to Peter Owusu-Ansah, Digital Artist. Peter has studied colour for over a decade, finding its range of expression as a voice for his work. The privilege of judging Peter's work online has allowed us the ability to gain a deeper understanding for his skilful inventiveness and motivation. Through digital manipulation, Peter has crafted rectilinear compositions in radiant colour. Deeply driven by his passion to build a better world for the Deaf community, Peter's aspiration is to establish greater awareness of the capabilities of Deaf artists within the broader arts community. Leading through personal example, he hopes for widespread engagement for Deaf artists with museum curators and gallerists.

"Among many criteria, the Founder's Award honours those whose vision is greater than the sum of their work. The ambition of the award is to help make a difference in the trajectory of an artist's career, whereby the link of the creative process not only contributes to the field of work but reflects the possibility for growth in an emerging career."

- Flavio Belli & Tiana Koffler Boyman, 2021 Judges of Murray & Marvelle Koffler Founder's Award

About Peter and his work

"As a deaf person and artist, I always have to find something joyful to fill my eyes to make life worth living. I believe I am meant to explore life through seeing. Colours became my deep curiosity when I zoomed into one of my pop art works; I played with those colours using Photoshop. When I started making my colourful concentric squares, I just wanted to see what my colours look like in that style. Of course, I recognize Josef Alber, Frank Stella, Richard Anuszikewicz for their colourful concentric squares. I also recognize many artists for their concentric circles. They have influence on my works. After making my first works, it was like—let me see it in other colours again and again. It became addictive.

"After producing hundreds of works with the intention to always create better than my best, it got difficult to figure out what I wanted. After reaching my 1000th work, I realized that I'm dealing with my emotional responses [when creating]. I've done many beautiful works, but my emotion does not respond to every beautiful piece. What my emotion strongly responded to felt the same as who I am inside. I believe that how I feel inside truly could be how anybody feels when they see my works, just like the way we taste food and know it's delicious or not. People just have to taste my colours with their eyes to know how they feel. I see almost no Deaf role models in the visual art world. This is my attempt create one through my works. Also, it is my attempt to break barriers in an art world that excludes Deaf and disabled artists."

Purple N Blue, Peter Owusu-Ansah, 2021, Digital Artwork, Photoshop, Artbox Frame

On being a part of TOAF

"Personally, participating in TOAF is the best thing to happen to me. Even though I am facing so much inaccessibility in art spaces, TOAF allows me to present my works in front of a large audience. I have successfully sold some of my works at the price I believe in and kept 100% of my profit. So it is a great place and opportunity for your potential engagement to new audiences and art collectors alike, as well as to keep experimenting with art marketing skills—I simply love it."

Feelin Da Autumn, Peter Owusu-Ansah, 2021, Digital Artwork, Photoshop, Artbox Frame.

On receiving the Founder's Award

"When I won the Founder’s Award, it was a big piece of brick falling off my shoulder. I worked extremely hard for years. My pieces are harder to execute than they look. I hardly earn from my works, so, earning the award is a tear of joy."

On what audiences can expect to see at TOAF61

"I am working on a series of twenty small, affordable Artboxes. Some works will be colourful concentric squares, some will be colourful stripes, some will be colourful pixels and some will be colourful diamonds. They are already in Toronto Image Works for production. I am really excited, I can't wait for the months to go by. I may also bring a few large works I already have but never used in a show yet."

View more of Peter's works

Follow Peter on Instagram


Ongoing Programming

60 Works/60 Years co-presented by the City's Market Gallery, featuring works collected by the City from TOAF over the years through the Mayor's Purchase Award. It has been extended until December 2022! It is open to the public and free to attend.

Public Funders

Foundations & Corporate

Major Award Partners

Programming Partners