Elise McMahon

August, 2018

WISC will give two key members of the Kokrobitey Institute, Renee Neblett and Elise McMahon, the opportunity to begin to document the course that supported the growth of the Institute from it’s inception in 1992 as a short-term study destination in West Africa to a global center for sustainable development.

Elise McMahon is an artist, designer, and teacher based in New York and at the Kokrobitey Institute in Ghana. She is currently the Design Director of the Kokrobitey Institute. For the last 10 years, she has taught furniture skills and “resourceful design” at schools and studios, including Bard College at Simon’s Rock, The Textile Arts Center, and 3rd Ward Studios.

In addition to teaching, Ms. McMahon maintains an independent art and design career. She designs interior spaces and makes custom furniture for clients such as Artsy, Kwambio, and Basilica Hudson. She also has design installations in galleries in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Chicago.

Ms. McMahon has a deep interest in the way in which designed spaces and systems can improve the quality of life for creators, consumers, and observers. With each object and project, she aims to challenge the mass-produced interiors and experiences that we commonly accept in our modern world.

Ms. McMahon obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) from the Rhode Island School of Design, with a focus on furniture design.

About the Kokrobitey Institute
Kokrobitey Institute is building a holistic approach to development work. An approach which acknowledges that such work cannot be divided into categories that separate the basic needs of people – education, health, and general welfare – from models focused solely on economic development.

The institute believes that progress occurs at the intersection between tradition & modernity. This maxim is reflected in every aspect of Kokrobitey’s work from its educational materials, organic gardens, international design programs and youth training models to its growing recycled textile and glass social entrepreneurship projects. Even its campus and design facilities were built with compressed locally produced earth bricks. The Institute is an example that real literacy is not confined to simply reading and writing words, but must be as well the ability to, ‘Read the World’, to understand the resources nature affords us to live and thrive in a Globally sustainable environment.