CHAW welcomes Khadija Jahmila for its February Inside the Artist’s Studio, a monthly virtual residency series that offers insight into an artists influences, processes, and materials. Khadija is a Maryland-based surrealist collage artist best known for splicing disparate iconography to portray and celebrate Black women as otherworldly. For the month of February, Khadija will be featured on CHAW’s Instagram @CHAWinDC. She will also lead a free virtual workshop Cut It Out on Saturday, February 20, 2021 from 1:00-2:30 p.m. Click here for more information and to register for the workshop.

Artist statement 
Enrolled in historically white, affluent schools, I stuck out: lanky, gap-toothed, Black, and ostracized. I learned to overcompensate–suppressing my imagination, rejecting my “ethnic” name, relaxing my natural hair, and minding my vocabulary–to prove I, a Black woman born from an immigrant family, was equally capable. Piecing together clues and analyzing evidence in the lab, my undergraduate Forensic Biology program led to a deeper investigation of self through poetry. When writing became dull, visual art found my embrace, an experiment with wet and dry mediums on paper and canvas.

Collage is my current focus of work. I cut, augment, arrange, and paste recycled paper products onto the back of discarded climate change and political posters. Each collage is an Afro-centric composite mini-universe of layered, fragmented experiences navigating cultural erasure, identity politics, and mental health.

My art is the embodiment of my surreal, self-preservation and serves as a visual reminder that there is agency in being able to dissect and put yourself back together. There is authorship in exploring and reinserting your own narrative. There is place and space for Black, immigrant, queer, women to live and create as we journey towards self and communal wholeness.

Just Look Over Your Shoulder

Artist bio 
Maryland-based surrealist collage artist Khadija Jahmila (b. 1993) is best known for splicing disparate iconography to portray and celebrate Black women as otherworldly. She utilizes salvaged paper sources to explore Afrofuturism and defy the myth of Black inferiority. Jahmila was selected as one of three awardees for the NextGen award (2020) at VisArts in Rockville, MD. Her artwork has been exhibited in Washington, DC and Maryland— including at The Emergence Community Arts Collective, Anacostia Arts Center, Howard Theatre, and VisArts.

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