Solange’s website Saint Heron recently turned me on to this Nigerian artist, Fred Martins. His work tackles social themes with a dramatic graphic style. One of his high profile projects depicts afro picks stylized as the profiles of great Civil Rights activists set against an orange background. He explains these choices in an interview:
What do you think is so strong about the comb as a symbol?
Afro combs were worn in the 70’s by fluffy-afroed youths in America as a protest against repression and it goes beyond style and adornment, a comb has a strong historical play for Africans. Combs were connected to both cultural and religious beliefs, even though they were fashionable and also used for combating lice, ticks and fleas. The over 5500-year-old Afro-combs discovered in Kemet (Egypt) disproves the present theories that denies Egypt its blackness. It connects Africans to their ancestors.
Why the bold orange background?
The orange colour is associated to prison. I realised that most of these legendary activists – from Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela, Patrice Lumumba, Fela Kuti to Angela Davis – were at some point jailed for enforcing the African consciousness.
Another of his projects tackles climate change.