Defining Oakhella's Afrofuturism
By M.C. K~Swift & Stella Iman Dugall
It is no secret Oakhella has enjoyed the visual lexicon of Afrofuturism. After-all, it was Shamezo's creative direction that led to a series of Oakhella Brunch flyers, designed with African head masks laid over contemporary Black-American bodies.
Since then, there has been an unspoken unification among Oakhella Creatives – that their visual language, brand and overall movement is and will always be rooted in an Afrofuturistic sashay.
Up until this point, we as a collective, never truly discussed the depth of West African influences in our artwork. Nor have we discussed why there is such a strong proclivity to repurpose African images and symbols for mostly, branded content (which, TBH ain’t all that original for any Black-led collective...and still, we have to do it).
In an attempt to situate Oakhella within the Afrofuturism discourse, I asked Swift to break it down:
Oakhella understands Afrofuturism through the creative processes of self-determination for people of the African Diaspora. When Hip-Hop music samples our predecessors and electrifies the sound, when graffiti artists resurrect hieroglyphs through end-to-end burners, when Hoppin’ John is served to usher in a new year’s prosperity; this is Afrofuturism. We connect with our ancestral traditions while forging new practices, taking full ownership of our identities, past, present and future. The universe is mental and our imaginations are the origin of the reality we create.
Ergo, here you are witnessing the genesis of an ongoing conversation concerning the profound relationship between the collective’s brand identity and our individual identities through a self-determined lens.