Meet Ebenezer Akakpo, the Ghanaian Behind Portland’s Colorful Bus Stop, Best in the U.S.

Ebenezer Akakpo is an artist originally from Ghana but based in the United States. His passion for jewelry making led him to Le Arti Orafe in Florence, Italy, where he studied gem-setting and jewelry design.

In Italy, he discovered computer-aided design and manufacturing and loved the fact that it could be a change agent in the jewelry industry. When he moved to the United States, he studied metal and jewelry making at Maine College of Art and Design, Portland, Maine, and then studied industrial design at Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York.

He founded Akakpo Design Group LLC in Maine in 2017 after college. The company designs jewelry, clothing and home accessories. He also founded Mine Culture Apparel and serves as Creative Director for both companies.

Akakpo recently designed a bus station shelter in Portland that won a national competition as the best bus station in the U.S. His design, located on Congress Avenue, climbed in front of six bus stops in other cities before winning a head-to-head confrontation with the competitor in Boston. His run against Baltimore. Norwalk, Connecticut; And Juneau, Alaska, was fueled by a popular vote campaign.

“I’ve been thinking for a very long time about doing public art,” Akakpo told WMTW News. “There was this voice that said you always wanted to follow in the footsteps of your father who was an architect, this is your chance,” he said.

Akakpo’s design for the bus station was inspired by symbols of Ghana, symbolizing hope and friendship. Create icons using bright colors. “I see the symbols as part of my culture represented here and wholeheartedly accepted,” Akakpo said.

Akakpo began designing the bus stop in 2020 when the nonprofit Creative Portland used a National Endowment for the Arts grant to commission Akakpo and three other local artists to decorate bus shelters.

According to Akakpo, he wanted to design something that offered hope and comfort due to Portland’s make-up, which is a mix of immigrants and locals.

“We are a mix of immigrants and people from here, the original Miners,” Akakpo said. “So the two symbols that jumped out at me, friendship and hope, were the right symbols that I feel we need in society.”

According to gajreport, the art design was funded by $4,500 from a Creative Portland-sponsored Bus Shelter initiative.

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