When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you, 2019


Reflecting on the many visitors that walk through Hudson Yards daily, Jamilla Okubo’s visually compelling piece for OFF THE WALL  takes its’ title from an African proverb and explores themes surrounding the topic of self-validation and self-love. The design is inspired by Kanga fabric, a colorful, rectangular fabric cloth worn by women and men throughout the African Great Lakes region. Two-headed snakes twist in the patterned border, representing the outside ‘enemy’ as well as the ‘enemy’ within. The woman holding up a mirror to herself represents self-validation, looking within, and reacting, while the other mirrors face the viewers, asking them to participate in the ceremony.


Jamilla Okubo is a mixed-media artist whose work explores the intricacy of belonging to American, Kenyan, and Trinidadian identities. Rotating between collage, painting, fashion design, and printmaking, her imagery is heavily inspired by the art of storytelling. Her exhibition highlights include Milk Gallery, Calabar Gallery, Weeksville Heritage Center, and Dray Walk Gallery.