Kahari Blackburn wearing his Magic Man t-shirt. Photos by Sulyiman
Kahari Blackburn wearing his Magic Man t-shirt. Photos by Sulyiman

How is it that we always manage to make something out of nothing? That’s the question at the heart of a new Weekly collaboration with South Side artists Kahari Blackburn and Sulyiman Stokes

It’s always been a core tenet of the Weekly’s model to be a platform for and by South Siders. Over the past nine years, we’ve built an extensive network of talented contributors, including visual artists across every medium.

We’re introducing a new project aimed at exploring what it means to be a South Sider from a particular artists’ point of view. The result of each collaboration will be a physical object created in dialogue with our product team, Chima Ikoro, community builder, and Malik Jackson, special projects coordinator. 

For our first collaboration, titled “Something Outta Nothing”, we approached Kahari with a prompt inspired by a Nikki Giovanni quote.

“Style has a profound meaning to Black Americans. If we can’t drive, we will invent walks and the world will envy the dexterity of our feet. If we can’t have ham, we will boil chitterlings; if we are given rotten peaches, we will make cobblers; if given scraps, we will make quilts; take away our drums, and we will clap our hands. We prove the human spirit will prevail. We will take what we have to make what we need. We need confidence in our knowledge of who we are.”

Nikki Giovanni

For us, this sentiment shows up in Kahari’s ability to take a simple material like construction paper and turn it into fine art. For Kahari, it shows up in a sculpture he remembers from his childhood called the Monument to the Great Migration, which served as the inspiration for this design, called ‘Magic Man’.

Multimedia artist Sulyiman Stokes was enlisted to capture photos and put together a video that expressed the spirit of the project, and highlight the work and life of Kahari. On top of filming and editing the video, Sulyiman also used his own music to score the short. This addition brings his character into the project, making it a true collaboration. Watch the video below.

Kahari’s Magic Man t-shirt is available for purchase online now and at Build Coffee starting Friday, November 18th. All t-shirts come with a sticker pack, and all proceeds go toward supporting the Weekly’s work to produce stories for, by, and about the South Side.

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Kahari Blackburn can be found on instagram @kaharirastafari and Sulyiman Stokes can be found on instagram @sulyiman_

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