As a kid, Ekow Nimako spent hours clicking together Lego bricks to recreate characters from his favourite comic books and TV shows. Six years ago, after he was laid off from his job as an editor and writer, Nimako was scrolling through Craigslist and came across an ad from a family looking to get rid of their Lego, and he thought it might be fun to start building again. This time, he wanted to make sculptures inspired by his Ghanaian heritage instead of the white superheroes he looked to for inspiration when he was younger. “A lot of my work portrays black children. There’s something magical about that time in your life, before the ills of the world works its mischief and changes your outlook,” he says.
From his home studio in Leslieville, he makes mythical creatures, some several feet tall, from exclusively black Lego pieces. Here’s a look at some of his favourite creations.
The title of this piece—”Fear the venom not the sting”—was inspired by a Ghanaian proverb. Nimako wants his sculptures to fight the negative stereotypes about African people. “You don’t see images of Africa where people are thriving, it’s all poverty and disease-stricken children,” he says. “When I started creating these melanin-rich mythological creatures, I wanted to portray power and resistance, similar to the Ashanti wars, where the Ghanaians wiped out the British.”