In honor of Black History Month, an African-Canadian artist created a way to reflect back to young people the heroes of yesterday—and inspire them to greatness tomorrow.
The small business owner in Mississauga, Ontario, calls himself a ‘cardboard artist’—and his new limited edition design features a mirror in the center, surrounded by the faces of 14 legendary Black heroes of history.
Luanga Nuwame told GNN he saw news reports in December about an uptick in depression during the 2020 pandemic, especially among kids.
“For the first time in recent history, you have kids with no school interactions… and many are questioning their potential future. From there, the idea for my Reflection of Black Excellence design just hit me.”
From Dr. King and Bessie Coleman, to George Dixon and Rosa Parks, each of those great people, Nuwame says, “were once unsure and scared kids.”
Looking in the mirror, children and teens can be inspired to see the best in themselves, their potential as young future leaders.
Until now, the 43 year-old inventor mostly identified as a ‘geeky nerd-boy’ whose online business, Zelpha Comics Ltd. focused on publishing his array of indie comic book titles like Paper Rock Scissors N’ Stuff Wars and The Adventures of Little Petalianne. Since its inception in 2012, Zelpha Comics has branched out into publishing trading cards, board game concepts, cardboard novelties, and providing custom design services for individuals or businesses.
With this new product, Nuwame hopes he can do some good. “I hope it can inspire at least some kids to want to be just as great as the greats. Like all my work, I make everything by hand—just me, cardboard, glass, and a cutting blade in my home office.”
The mirror can be wall-mounted and is surrounded by six hand-cut layers of industrial cardboard, made with locally-sourced renewable materials.
He made two versions, a fact that may be fascinating to Americans. The Black legends from the U.S. are household names in the States—people like Booker T. Washington, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, and Jackie Robinson. The Canadian edition features faces not so familiar—Carrie Best, Elijah McCoy, and George Bonga.
Both feature an inspiring reminder printed at the bottom: Love Yourself Always.
The price is $49.99, with only 50 copies available of each version. But, he told us, “If the 50 copies are bought, I will definitely create another edition with other great Black History legends featured around the mirror. I want each edition to feature different faces. So, this idea will continue on for sure.”
See all the details on his website, including lead times on products which are made-to-order: HandmadeCardboardInnovations.
Canadian born and raised, his father was from Togo and his mother, Jamaican. On his YouTube channel, Homemade Game Guru, he has shared his love of cardboard, tallying 6 million views of his craft videos ranging from cardboard swimming pools to cardboard furniture, and comic book crafts. Nuwame is also the author of the DIY manual The Cardboard Bible.
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