Jamilla Okubo is an interdisciplinary artist exploring the intricacies of belonging to an American, Kenyan, and Trinidadian identity. Combining figurative painting, pattern/textile design, fashion, and storytelling, she celebrates the Black body in relation to movement, expression, ideology, and culture. Inspired by kanga cloth, which communicate messages derived from Swahili proverbs, quotes from the Qur’an, African folklore and popular culture, Okubo creates her own patterns in reference to the history, mythology, and vernacular of the African diaspora. She prints these original patterns on paper as collage material for her paintings or on fabric for fashion and performance-based work. The gestural strength of her imagery and symbolism is a platform for restoring agency and reclaiming the oppositional gaze. Style, embraced for sociopolitical impact, woven with ancestral and contemporary wisdom invites the viewer to reflect on old and new mythologies, alternative realities, and self-love.
Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, in venues such as The Torpedo Factory (VA), Social & Public Art Resource Gallery (CA), Milk Gallery (NY), Weeksville Heritage Center (NY), Super Wonder Gallery (Toronto) and the Dray Walk Gallery (London).
She has created art installations for Culture Corp x Hudson Yards (NY), and the Line Hotel (DC). In addition, her work has been reproduced for publications and purchased for private collections.
Notable publications of her work have appeared in O, Oprah Magazine and the covers of An American Marriage, Tayari Jones (Oneworld Publishing House) and Den Omättliga Vägen, Ben Okri (Modernista Group AB).