“To the Black Girls Who Don’t Ever Feel Seen”- This Artist is Inspired by Afro-Futurism

Farhiya Jama, or better known as Riya Jama, is a Somali visual-artist, writer and photographer based in Toronto, Canada. Riya does not only make art because she loves art, but also because she wants to tell us a story.

On her Facebook page the Somali artist wrote that much of my work is “centred on reclaiming my narratives of being a Muslim, Black, East African/Horner girl who grew up in a third culture and a huge fan of fantastical, mythical, futurism worlds where I never seen myself reflected.” With her art she wants to represent people like herself.

In her art pieces she uses sci-fi and space together with black women as the main features. In her first solo show Riyadii Farxiyo, which is in Somali and can be translated as “Dreams of Farhiya” this can be seen very clearly. Many of the pieces are named after Somali girls names. With this she wants “this exhibit to be a love letter to little black girls who don’t ever feel seen” she told TorontoLife.

Here are some pieces of her:

1. New Down

New Downshows covered women looking into space. The colors and atmosphere create a peaceful piece with mysterious elements.

2. Jamiila

This piece was the first to be finished. It is named after Jama’s mother, her biggest support. This is also the piece she identifies the most with. In the picture we see a young girl and young boy sitting in a nature surrounding. The weird and special part of it are the sci-fi and space elements integrated into the piece in a way it feels natural.

3. Hoyoo Universe

source: https://cdn.torontolife.com

This stunning piece wants to recreate the birth of the universe. As she said to TorontoLife, “there is something poetic about making a Black woman the mother of the universe.” And we can totally agree that this piece is poetic.

4. Birth of Beyoncé

Riya Jama sometimes also features some famous celebrities in her artwork. In this artwork, called ‘birth of Beyoncé’, the talented artist makes a tribute to the singer, calling her ‘the all powerful queen’.

5. Once upon a time

Halima Aden is a Somali-American fashion model. In an interview, the hijabi model said that “As long as I could remember, the media portrays Muslim women as oppressed and in a very negative light, but you never see the beauty and the good things that come from Muslim women.”  She became well-known when she opted for a burkini during the Miss Minnesota beauty pageant.

6. Yuna

Yuna is a Malaysian singer-songwriter and has already worked together with various big celebrities, like Pharell Williams and Drake.

Written by Mayada Srouji

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Mayada Srouji is a 23-year-old student Gender and Diversity at the UGent and has a bachelor in Arabic and Islamic Sciences, with a minor in political and social sciences. She is interested in women rights, philosophy, literature and history.