A box of Lego is packed with unlimited possibilities and potential for innovation. These colorful blocks are more than just a kid’s toy. Proving this all the way is 42-year-old Ghanaian Canadian artist Ekow Nimako who clearly has a way with the Lego bricks—and in the most unique way imaginable. Nimako started making models in 2012, but what distinguishes him from other artists is that he uses only black Legos for his work.
The sculptor’s emphasis is on creating Black art. His singular approach comes from a place of awareness, and his reasons behind this are interesting. The first reason is practicality, as black is the most common Lego color, it gives him many pieces to work with. The second is his liking for the color. According to Nimako, “I think there’s something so sophisticated, something that is just expansive about black, and then there’s also something that is dark and sometimes foreboding or haunting about black. It has so much spectrum to it”.
The most relevant reason, however, is that he wanted his creations to be “unequivocally Black. Despite their features or what I may do with them, they’ll always be regarded as Black,” he explained. He doesn’t think of it as a hobby but as fine art.
In 2014, Nimako made his first monochromatic human sculpture, titled “Flower Girl”. It depicts a Black flower girl holding a giant bee, and it came into being because he wanted to create “a place of sanctuary for the most vulnerable in this world,” and highlight the “innocence lost of young Black girls that didn’t get a chance to be like traditional flower girls in the West”.
The sculpture was initially to be that of a six-year-old, but over the years, the piece was enhanced using over 25,000 black Lego pieces, and it is now the size of an average 10-year-old.
Another Lego figure that became widely popular was Nimako’s ‘Building Black: Civilizations’ series which features an “Afrofuturistic Metropolis”. Built using more than 100,000 Lego bricks, “Kumbi Saleh 3020 CE” is a 30 sq. ft artwork that was on display at The Aga Khan Museum in Toronto.
The message behind these pieces is an “inclusive future” that acknowledges the history of anti-Black racism and how “utterly disruptive” it is, and recognizes the role of Afrofuturism in allowing people to “envision a better world.” His intent is to honor the Ghanaian roots and mythology.
The artist is currently working on a sculpture called “The Great Turtle Race,” which will show Black children racing on the backs of two mythological turtles to “capture the essence of childhood.”
Also in the works is a documentary based on Nimako’s creations and it’ll be released by Lego in February. The artist hopes this will pave the way for some great collaborations with the company.