As you know, I have been a practicing artist for many years now, 15+ years and counting insha’allah. I have had the pleasure to both live in and travel to many countries, and I’ve always felt comfortable around different people. A small favorite indulgence of mine has been, and still is, trying out new cuisines and sampling new dishes. As part of my In Situ Fellowship, all three of the artists (Cameron Granger, Catalina Shleinberger Munoz, and I) along with the curators (Lindsey Berfond, Sarah Cho, and Hitomi Iwasaki) and sometimes other staff at the museum go out to lunch in a different Queens neighborhood every other week. In just the past month we’ve eaten at Filipino, Korean, and Indian restaurants. Eating together has proven to be a great entry way for us to connect with one another, learn about the diverse Queens neighborhoods, and share aspects of different cultures.
I’ve always been interested in gaining deeper knowledge about myself and my community, as well as getting to know communities other than my own. My work centers my identity, and through it I get to share parts of Black Muslim culture that are exciting and different. Being an artist allows me to move through the world with an unbridled sense of curiosity, while seeking ways to express myself and share with others. At some point early in my career I came to realize that practicing art can be as unconventional as I wanted it to be. I realized that everything I wanted to do: teach, connect with people, organize, create, imagine, research, perform, lead, and collaborate… I could do it in the arts.
Just this last week I met up with Taji Ra’oof Nahl and two other curators at Little Flower in Queens. He was a former collaborator of my late mentor and professor Terry Adkins and that’s how we first met. He and I actually collaborated on my X Speaks performance at Ursinus College on April 2, 2015 at Berman Museum of Art. He was in town for an electronic music conference so we took the opportunity to catch up and share our current projects, and who knows – we may do another collab soon!