By A.L. Smith

For those ardent devotees already in the know, Olusola “Shala” Akintunde is an innovative, Chicago-based Nigerian-American social-impact artist and multimedia producer, who is quickly becoming revered in both local and national creative circles for his impressive, interactive art installations, which are often infused with music and potent social messages.

Shala is also becoming a well-known multi-disciplinary, Diaspora inspired, self-taught arts and cultural virtuoso whose one-of-a-kind works are drawing a diverse circle of friends, patrons, and admirers throughout Chicago and beyond.

“I humbly believe that I am among those challenged by spiritual, environmental and social forces to plant my art in the forefront of the urban landscape consciousness, to promote love, respect, and tolerance for others, as we seek to share and protect the planet,” shared Shala. He believes that we all have a role to play in the world and it’s up to each individual to seek to discover their real mission–turn it into actuality by whatever means necessary. He sure did.

This goal doesn’t fully reveal his unique, and fascinating story. Clearly, Shala is somewhat of an anomaly – a mindful, avant-garde, progressive thinker and a talented activist-artist.

Shala’s youthful penchant for melding the outré and the unique today has evolved into a steady stream of corporate, emerging small business and private clients, as well as a growing fan base seeking to experience his one-of-a-kind solar environmental murals, stained- glass sculptures, and original metal


“We didn’t have much money during my childhood, but I was taught the value of proactive self-reliance and to appreciate the inherent beauty of everyday items,” Shala notes. He made his own toys out of broken, discarded materials, and also created funny character-filled comic book characters, which he sold to his neighborhood peers, igniting a dynamic entrepreneurial spirit which continues to this day.

This is a diverse professional portfolio, creatively leveraged by his savvy use of various traditional and social media. Ever heard of the social commentary portrait comic series called ‘Seven Spoon’? A Shala creation, which turned into his first sold-out gallery show and later an inaugural book, published in 2015 entitled, ‘Seven of Seven: Shala’s Seven Spoon.’ Shala continues to write, perform and create, continually expanding his repertoire of exciting artistic innovations.

His best-known piece, the Solar Pyramid of Bronzeville, is located on 47th Street, East of King Drive. Over the past two years, he worked in conjunction with local arts and science high school and college students to transform a formerly vacant lot in this historic Black neighborhood. The empty lot was once the location of the legendary jazz, blues and R&B emporium, Gerri’s Palm Tavern, once upon an earlier time hosted many generations of African-American music greats such as Duke Ellington, James Brown, Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, Quincy Jones, Willie Dixon, and Muddy Waters among many others.

Commissioned by ComEd in partnership with City of Chicago’s ‘Year of Public Art’ Initiative, Shalacreated the south side’s first-ever community solar, art covered pyramid that generates energy culled during the daylight hours, and then powers overnight illumination. As an added value, it will supply sustainable green energy technology to the Guichard Art Gallery next door, and is quickly becoming a ‘must-see’ travel destination for Chicago visitors and natives alike.

The former rapper, founder, and member of the now-defunct Chicago- based high school rap group Qualo released four independent albums and snared a record deal with Universal before intense internal acrimony caused their untimely dissolution. While this caused a rare bout of indecision over his next professional moves, Shala quickly recovered, regained his direction, and moved on to even greater heights.

Shala’s deep, personal commitment to working on behalf of others is further revealed through his role as the founder of The Movement Worldwide, Inc., and a boutique social cause and specialty media company that produces multimedia projects, music, and art-based collectibles.

Note: This article was originally published in the inaugural issue of Bronzeville Life Vol. 1 for August/September 2018.