Shala’s Seven Spoon is an original collection of subversive character portraits featuring an irreverent teenage girl and her hilariously relatable social commentary. Developed by the Nigerian solar artist, Shala, the cult character was created to inspire girls to boldly embrace their own brand of beauty by unapologetically being themselves. The infamous character is currently being developed into a series of animated shorts and can be seen as an icon on most of Shala’s public art pieces and solar monuments.
Developed in 2003, the satirical teen character has been celebrating mulitfaceted, under-represented girls for almost 20 years. The cult character rose to prominence, prior to social media, as a series of digital portraits that were circulated through email and various blogs. Each Seven Spoon portrait is created through a unique mixed-media process of pencil, ink, marker-rendering, digital collage and digital texturing. She is presented as a series of a mixed-media portraits collected and traded mainly through limited-edition 16″ X 20″ stretched canvas giclees, organic cotton t-shirts and books. The work is released in collections of twelve portrait pieces and featured in touring gallery exhibits.
Shala Akintunde is a Nigerian multi-disciplinary artist and pioneer in the medium of Solar Art, an innovative practice that seamlessly merges art and solar technology. Shala’s work challenges social narratives and provides creative solutions to social challenges in the form of public art installations and gallery works. His work became the subject of a Fall course at The Illinois Institute of Technology and he highlighted it during his first TED talk in 2019. He has received multiple Artist of the Year honors including the Innovator of the Year nomination by ADCOLOR. Shala has also worked with many notable brands including Xfinity, Nissan and Anheuser-Busch. He is primarily lauded for his poignant portrait series, Shala’s Seven Spoon and Shala’s Bronzeville Solar Pyramid; a 16 feet tall pyramid built with his unique art-rendered solar giclees. Now a Chicago landmark, the solar pyramid generates solar electricity that allows it to illuminate and provide energy to a neighboring building. This has made Shala’s Solar Pyramid the first public sculpture of its kind.
(snippets from an interview with the artist)
“She is a smart and satirical girl of random color. I like to say she is not black, she’s colored; include the pun. I think she looks like a majority of the world; and the new America, for that matter.”
“I kind of hate when people call her a ‘sassy black girl’. I feel like that’s just too simple and it limits her to something they can put in a box and stereotype. Please keep my work out of your boxes.”
“It’s like if a person is not white they are black. That’s not what our world looks like. I developed the character to, ironically, represent real girls; not just the black and white thropes and stereotypes we always see in mass media.”
“I like to think she is equally offensive and relatable; at least that’s what her fans told me to tell you when someone gets offended.”