By Ingrid Martinez
As an art organization, RAW believes in using our platform to help our artists to be heard, seen, and loved. Not only does Naima Aliya’s artwork deserve to be noticed it should be understood. Aliya is an ambitious artist from Baltimore with a long set of skills ranging from face painting, makeup artistry, and is even a creative director.
Her photography skills are also extremely impressive whether she claims to admit it or not.
Originally, Naima planned on becoming a Broadway actress as she believes in the value of stage plays and how it should be more prominent in African American communities. “The way that messages are conveyed through live performances are so imperative to inspire those around us” she says.
Although now Naima found her new love for makeup she is still able to emanate an important statement through it. Being an emotional and an expressive human being, it was only a matter of time for her passion to derive.
Her message? Black women are magical. Nothing less.
“It's so important to me that we're looked at as magic rather than a threat in society. We're capable of too much good to only be depicted as bad” she said. “I make black girls look magical in my art and it's always inspired by something that oppressors have used against us to dehumanize our character or justify their need to prejudge us i.e. hip hop. Everybody hates hip hop until they love it then you see high fashion runways with air brushed tees that used to be in rap videos with bamboo earrings that were once considered to be ‘too ghetto’”.
Naima’s work consists of mystical aesthetics that pull from influences of the Yoruba which she was introduced to by her mother.
“We believe in brujas and priests, wearing all white to symbolize our purity (that's why I wore all white at the showcase), and doing rituals to celebrate our ancestors and higher beings. I was never an extremely religious person but I love the discipline, principle, wisdom, and love of Yoruba. I did a shoot inspired by one of the Deities; Oshun. I'm doing another one inspired by Yemaya the goddess of the moon and ocean”, says Naima.
When asked what particularly from the Yoruba religion she was inspired by, she further discussed the African deities, she says “The freedom of spiritual awareness, love, celebration, depth in roots. I feel an innate connection to it and I feel the energy of the deities. They're my ancestors. Oshun is a deity I wish I'd known of growing up. She's the goddess of confidence, beauty, and fertility. She wears the bright and vibrant color yellow as it reflects the sun. Yemaya is my absolute favorite. She symbolizes fluidity and emotional strength. She is the mother of the 7 seas; also looked at as a moon goddess and the moon is my favorite thing in the sky.”
Naima’s art is also musically inspired from a range of artists like Andre 3000 and Erykah Badu. Her favorite Badu song is a close tie between Orange Moon and Honey.
In the long run, Naima hopes to majorly influence cosmetic companies to create products for Black and Brown women to properly represent them. Should Naima continue to create more artwork, there is little doubt this loud message could help bridge an understanding and further project the indignation on the lack of social awareness of who Black women are and what they are capable of.
Not only does Naima expose the magic of Black women, her art empowers them to feel magical.
“Black and Brown women are not objects that you can just hyper-sexualize and fetishize over. Black and Brown women are not here to take the back seat and just ride along with whatever BS society expects us to be happy with. We are magical, powerful, BEAUTIFUL creatures with the ability to transform and create greatness. All Black and Brown girls. The girls who live in the projects and wear bamboo earrings and have baby fathers locked up in the system putting money on those books; you are just as important as the Black woman in an upper middle-class household going to school to be a lawyer. There's no discrimination in my celebration for Black and Brown women. All of us are so magical and necessary to society in every way. If it weren't for Black women in the hood then the world of high fashion would be boring. I want everyone to know and understand that”, says Naima.
On behalf of RAW, we were extremely proud to have Naima in our recent RAW Baltimore showcase. We are very excited to see what she comes up with for her future projects.