Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts and Visual Culture



First Advisor

Sarah Cantor

Second Advisor

Kelly Scheffer

Third Advisor

Jonathan Walz


Identity expressed within African diasporic arts has historically been connected to traditional genres such as portraiture. Over time, contemporary artists have explored identity through genres beyond portraiture and through the use of non-traditional materials. The sculptural practice of Ghanaian Canadian artist Ekow Nimako, a fine arts sculptor based in Toronto, Canada, employs the unconventional material of LEGO® to offer a multi-generational perspective into deep diasporic memory. Examining Nimako’s sculptures through the perspective of colonialism and de-colonialism, materiality, and Afrofuturism, this thesis investigates the artist’s exploration of Black historical pasts to shape identities and construct narratives of Black futures. The monumental sculpture Kumbi Saleh 3020 CE emerges as a nuanced exploration of identity intricately connected to responses to colonial legacies. Nimako utilizes speculative storytelling to challenge colonial historical records by envisioning a future where Black individuals actively shape their own narratives. Nimako’s specific use of black LEGO® material enriches his works and underscores the significance of Black identity in historical and future contexts. Kumbi Saleh 3020 CE becomes a tangible exploration of identity, challenging prevailing stereotypes about Africa and Africans of the diaspora and presenting a futuristic city where Black agency in identity formation is unshackled from colonial constraints. Engaging themes such as feminism, resistance to oppression, and the reimagining of highly technologically advanced Black individuals, Nimako’s sculptural narratives surpass mere assertions of Black presence. They vividly illustrate the forward reaching results of Black agency, resilience, and innovation, and they make a substantial contribution to the ongoing discourse on identity within Afrofuturism. This work represents a unique analysis that contributes substantially to the art historical discourse on identity, contemporary art, Afrofuturism, and the sculptural practice of Ekow Nimako.