Art is one of the purest forms of history, during this historic month we would like highlight one Black visual artist. His artistic expression is related to his blackness, Hip-Hop culture and African roots.
We took a moment to journey through the mind of Kojo Owusu-Kusi, what we learned from him shows why art is the purist form of history. Check it out below:
The Source: Where are you from, how does this influence your art?
Kojo: I was born in Ghana, but I’ve lived in the UK and US since I was 3 years of age. No matter where I’ve lived, as soon as you get home you are in Ghana. My parents taught me a great deal about my Asante heritage. Ankara cloth was the first type of art I fell in love with. I used to ask my mom what the colors and patterns meant. For most of my youth I grew up in South London, which had a heavy population of Jamaicans. A few my friends parents had extensive reggae 45s and I would study the album art and how the art conveyed the artists message. Being an African in America introduced my to a whole new history and struggle I wasn’t familiar with. After living on the east coast for some time and being in certain situations as a black man, was then I could truly understand and relate to certain topics I choose to explore artistically.
Some of your artwork combines African culture with the popular culture of African Americans, can you explain why?
I always say, “I want to be the AUX cord between Africa and the diaspora. W.E.B. DuBois talked about Black people in America having a double consciousness. I myself feel like a hybrid with a triple consciousness.
Why is it important to show these cultures together?
Because they are all the same, just done in a different name. I want us to see and acknowledge the similarities and appreciate the differences.
How has Hip-Hop influenced you as an artist?
My mind is 75% rap lyrics. Hip-Hop is the force. It’s the one thing you will hear no matter where in the world you go. It’s like Michael Jackson. Hip hop introduced me to everything.
Describe your favorite Hip-Hop moment?
2016, Brixton. Last night in London chilling with Cormega before hopping on a plane to Ghana few hours later. I grew up on Queen’s rappers and Cormega was one of the first rappers I did artwork for. Being that we were in London, where I grew up and having to leave from being around him straight to Africa, was just a dope sum up of life back then.
In what ways does your work show Black pride?
The messages I try to convey and the imagery. Imagery is important, showing an alternative view point, which really should be the truth. But this life is a Babylon ting.
How does your work spread Black pride/ influence?
Working to be living proof that Black artist can have value. Giving an option of placing art on your wall that actual reflects your life. Just having something for us.
Do you think your work would be different if you were from a different part of the world?
Yes, I’ve experienced it. Being in London the culture is totally different. The vibes is it’s own wave, then when I’m on the east coast and Ghana. When I’m in Ghana I like to be outside more, so I’m doing more photography and graphic design. While in NY and London I’m inside more and painting and working more. Plus the access to different mediums and opportunities are totally different. I spent a month in Uganda and there wasn’t one art store in the country. So finding places to get paint that you really would like to use was hard. Its all in the vibes of the environment.
What does Black history mean to you?
Understanding… It is like Black history is sometimes hidden, changed or no told to us. But with each new piece of info I’m given, helps me understand where I’m coming from and what made me
Why is Black art important to Black history?
Art is one of the major ways we look at the culture and intelligence of a people. It conveys the minds of the time.
Describe your creative process and what inspires you?
I get all my ideas while in the shower.
Do you have a particular favorite piece?
No, I love my pieces all the same.
Check out his work below:
Find him on Instagram: @citizins