July 1, 2014
Brigid Pasco

OKFestival Artists Spotlight: Bankslave, UhuruB, and Swift9

On Wednesday, July 16, Kenyan graffiti artists Bankslave, UhuruB and Swift9 will present the OKFestival workshop Get Creative: Crafting & Conveying Your Message Through Street, Guerilla and Graffiti Art. This session, aimed at artists and non-artists alike, will lead participants through the process of creating and sharing a message through street art. Those unfamiliar with graffiti will learn techniques to approach the form.

Spray Uzi

Image courtesy zurukenya.com

All three artists are part of the Kenyan Spray Uzi collective, a group dedicated to spreading social and political messages through the publically accessible, highly visible medium of street art.

Image Courtesy sprayforchange.com

Image Courtesy sprayforchange.com

Bankslave, a painter with 13 years of experience, is one of the pioneers of Kenyan graffiti art. He brought political art to the forefront of visibility, and has been internationally acclaimed for his abilities. Most recently, he was recognized by the British Council street art contest. In addition to his work with Spray Uzi, Bankslave has worked in collaboration with 60Nozzles, Gas Crew, and the German Ghetto-Pimps Crew.


Image Courtesy zurukenya.com

Swift9 works in a wide range of media, and has been working with graffiti since 2002. Dubbing his style “Urban Ethnikk,” Swift9 specializes in realistic murals and stencils. He recently won the Spray for Change Project’s “New Kenya” competition with his portrait of Kenyan Olympic champion David Rushida. Swift9 also works as a youth educator, encouraging the development of critical thought alongside technical skill.


Image courtesy sprayforchange.com

In addition to the literal translation of “freedom”, Uhuru B’s name stands for the Swahili “Upendo, Halisi, Undugu, Riziki, Utu”, or, “Love, Music, Kinship, Sustenance, Dignity.” He is artist in residence at Kuona Trust Arts Centre, a key space for Kenyan visual artistic culture and education. Uhuru also works with community education and involvement, and recently facilitated a project with Nairobi youth in partnership with the Kuona Trust and Kenya Cultural Centre entitled “Identity Through Street Art.”

A large graffiti wall will be available throughout the course of the festival, and in addition to the scheduled workshop the artists will be present to continue work on the wall and consult with small groups during shorter drop-in sessions. Anyone interested in hands-on work, artistic collaboration, or crafting and packaging a message for the public should not miss Spray Uzi!

The workshop will take place on Wednesday, July 16, from 11:45-13:00.

For more information on the OKFestival Schedule, please click here.