Loretta Asante: the nurse addicted to canvas

For a lot of nurses, they are expected to have caring hearts, exhibit kindness and selflessness to people who are under their care. After all, the nursing profession was built on these attributes and many more by the founder of modern nursing Florence Nightingale.

When 24-year-old Loretta Nana Ama Asante, signed up for Nightingale’s call to duty, she didn’t sacrifice her childhood passion of painting. She was the type of toddler that would go to sleep clutching onto her priceless crayons.

When other toddlers her age were busily playing with their Barbie dolls and what have you, Loretta will be busily drawing stuff her parents could hardly decipher but as long as she was passionate about what she was doing, they cared less about it.

As she grew older, she became more obsessed with recreating her world, first in her jotter, then on her canvas. Her obsession led her to choosing Visual Arts programme in senior high school at Serwaa Nyarko Girls in Kumasi.

Her parents Faustina Osiah-Kodie and Peter Asante, stood by their daughter’s choice which was not usual for most girls who fancied the sciences. They gave all the support she needed to thrive and she in return promised not to let them down.

“For a lot of people that I met in that class, they were there because they didn’t quite have the course they so much preferred, thus Visual Arts was a second option. They had no passion in what they are studying but had to do so anyways to please their parents.

But here I was, very happy to have opted for this programme and I thought I could have like-minded people to share ideas with and help polish my art. Because I had been painting for a while now I found the course relatively easy albeit the support from my peers where not as strong as I would want it,” Loretta recounts.

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She nevertheless enjoyed the encouragement she received from her teachers, especially one Attah Kusi Ankrah, who was one of the main reasons why she never gave up on her unique talent. As she left SHS, she continued with her passion at every single opportunity, while taking some courses to enter the nursing training college.

As days turn into weeks, she used her talent less and less. In 2012 when she entered the Sekondi Nurses and Midwifery Training College, she thought the rigorous nature of her studies would conspire to keep her farther away from her priced passion.

But somehow as the stress of her studies took its toll on her, she found painting once more useful and an escape into her own world of bliss. There were times when her friends saw some of her work and wondered if she wasn’t in the wrong place where checking vitals, fixing catheters, and emptying bedpans were quite the norm.

As an introvert, she confided in her brush and canvas more and more as campus life threw more stress on her. She likes to do a lot of abstract painting to offer people perspective of what’s on her mind at every given point in time.

As a practicing nurse now, she comes across so many people with all manner of emotions. “Sometimes, there are people I meet in my line of work and clearly you can see they are not suffering from any form of sickness but just stress and emotions bottled up without any way to let them out.

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What I am seeking to do with my painting now is to offer that sort of outlet for people to let out those emotions. So, for instance you look at some of my works and it kind of gives you opportunity to reflect on some of the bottled emotions.

Indeed, I have seen some patients who got excited about what I do as every now and then I would bring out some of my works and they would be so keen to ask me so many questions and in the process, open up to me to whatever they may have on their minds,” she says.

Much as she has received a lot of praise and commendations, she was quick to admit that she’s not a finished article yet. She acknowledges there is a lot more distance to go than she has covered. She takes a lot of inspiration from contemporary artists like Ablade Glover, Ato Delaquis and the evergreen Julie Mehretu.

According to her, she is presently working on an exhibition where she is hoping she could sell some of her paintings and use the money to support the mother and baby unit at the KNUST Hospital where she currently works.

She says she’s looking forward to having some sponsors as well as fellow artists that would like to donate some of their works which will be sold to aid her project. She is particularly grateful to Prof. Richard Oppong Frimpong, who has been a pillar of support in her career.

Aside trying to reproduce her complex thoughts on canvas, or caring for her patients, Loretta very much adores her food. She really has no favorite, anything sumptuous is good to go.

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