Onajide Shabaka


Magnolia Forist May 27, 1847
Letterpress on Strathmore paper (ed. 45)
14 x 19 in. / 35.56 x 48.26 cm

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“The scent of jasmine before dawn…” 

Walking the urban and rural landscape the body of the artist, Onajide Shabaka, acts as a repository and reflection of history, specifically via familial associations in central, east coast Florida. The artist’s family relocated to Florida circa 1920. 

The urban and rural landscape of work and play documented by Shabaka over the past thirty-plus years has revealed racial and class injustices, including formerly restricted use of local beaches, housing areas, and recreational facilities. Landscapes inhabited by African Americans during the last one hundred years represent meager environmental episodes and speak to cultural fragmentation and racial segregation yet, quoting Maya Angelou, 

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style. If you have only one smile in you give it to the people you love. If you don’t like something, change it.” 

Shabaka does not have the expectation that viewers of his project will encounter the environmental situations documented and creatively expressed by walking in his footsteps, yet he shares the artworks as a primary public expression of his art practice. 


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