When I first saw this magnificent LEGO sculpture by Ekow Nimako, I knew it had to be his. The elegant, all-black theme is his trademark. But what I didn’t realize is that this is much more than a beautiful fictitious character. This is Anansi, an important deity in West African mythos. Ekow has a wonderful talent for pulling you in and inspiring you to look further, both literally and figuratively. So I’m here to share the gift of what I learned… and you might want to zoom in.
LEGO artist Ekow Nimako is celebrating May the Fourth with this amazing sculpture of the original Sith lord, Darth Vader. This massive helmet is just about life-size and as is typical for Ekow, incorporates a huge variety of LEGO elements ranging from Technic panels to slopes and even the big quarter saucer panels from the 90s. Ekow says this is only the first part of a larger build he’s working on.
See more of Ekow Nimako’s LEGO models on TBB, and listen to our interview with Ekow about race, inclusion and LEGO.
Some LEGO creations look more like what you traditionally think of as art than others. Large scale sculptures are a good example of this, and Ekow Nimako’s are my favourite LEGO sculptures, and his latest piece is no exception. Part hawk, part Lynx, this Griffyx cub is all beauty.
While this isn’t the first time The Brothers Brick has shared one of Ekow’s creations, this is the first one that I’ve had the pleasure of writing about. And like Lino before me, I’m having a hard time picking my jaw up off the floor and finding the right words. LEGO sculptures are so often made up of the easier-to-acquire-in-mass-quantities bricks, most notably the most basic of all LEGO elements, the 2×4 brick. But Ekow’s palette includes a much more vast array of shapes and sizes of LEGO pieces. In what I can only imagine is a ridiculously thoughtful process, he’s able to craft the best, most organic-looking brick-built shapes I’ve ever seen.
Take the Griffyx. Just by looking at it, you can feel the way it’s stretching its neck as if it just woke up and it’s loosening up its muscles. You can see the flick of its tail, as it whips back and forth. The fur looks soft to the touch and the wings – expertly engineered out of smaller chima wings – look primed and ready to take flight. I don’t get those same strong sensations from other brick-built sculptures, only Ekow’s. Will my editors allow me to go as far as to say he’s the greatest LEGO sculpture of our time? Nothing against all the other brilliant brick artists out there, but Ekow is just rewriting the game.
Due to the tragic murders of George Floyd, Manuel Ellis, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and far too many other African-Americans, racial injustices that Black people experience every day have come to the forefront of white consciousness once again. We’ve been examining how this very real-world issue affects the hobby we participate in, not just for a moment in time but on an ongoing basis. Earlier this week, we sat down with Canadian artist Ekow Nimako, whose LEGO work we’ve featured several times, including his stunning Flower Girl sculpture and wonderful Beasts from Bricks book.
Our conversation with Ekow covered his experience growing up playing with LEGO, interactions with the LEGO hobbyist community, the Afrocentric and Afrofuturist themes of his artwork, and how LEGO communities such as The Brothers Brick can operate more inclusively.
We ask you to watch the full video before reacting with comments. While the reaction from some quarters to recent statements we’ve made that Black Lives Matter has been dismissed as “political” and some reactions have been outright hateful, by and large the response from the LEGO hobbyist community has been empathetic and supportive. Nevertheless, there is much more to be done. A number of our readers have rightly pointed out The Brothers Brick’s own contributor list as one area where we can improve, asking us to work harder to recruit a more diverse team while highlighting more non-white builders and highlighting the LEGO creations of people of color. As I committed to during the video conversation with Ekow, one of our next steps will be to kick off a new round of contributor recruiting to improve our own diversity and better represent the community we are a part of.
As an avid builder and a contributor for The Brothers Brick, I have seen a lot of LEGO creations. I mean A LOT of LEGO creations. To put this in perspective as to what it is like to be an adult LEGO builder, I have a LEGO room in my home — most of us do, some more elaborate than others. Whether it be a corner of the laundry room, a repurposed bedroom, or an elaborate add-on suite built for this reason, we all have a dedicated space to build LEGO. A perusal of my phone contacts reveals that the vast majority of my friends are LEGO friends. We eat, sleep and breath this stuff daily. By now I’ve written a fair number of articles and am confident that I can at least amuse if not inspire or enlighten our readers. With all this in mind, you’d think there would be no one to baffle me and put me at a loss for words. But then along came Ekow Nimako.
As we all know, building with LEGO isn’t just about creating cool things, it’s also a fantastic art medium. Not only that, it’s a wonderful outlet for self-expression. One builder and incredible artist, Ekow Nimako, is a master of gorgeous monochrome sculptures. This white unicorn is just one of his many creations.
It turns out that he has built a similar piece in almost all black. Also, it sounds like he is considering building a large-scale version of this creation, with a child on its back. If he does, I’m sure it will be incredible! Ekow has many amazing builds, so keep an eye out for future coverage!
Beasts from Bricks: Amazing LEGO Designs for Animals from Around the World is the latest LEGO instructional book from Quarry Books, authored by LEGO artist and designer Ekow Nimako. This is the second book in the series following Birds from Bricks. The 144-page book presents illustrated step-by-step instructions to build 15 animals from around the world: Africa, Europe, Asia, Antarctica, Oceania, Central/South America, the Caribbean, and North America. Each set of instructions includes a couple of paragraphs of information about the animal’s characteristics and habitat. Also included is a bonus gallery of Ekow Nimako’s more complex, large-scale animal designs.