My core artistic style is street/ documentary photography and filmmaking. My introduction to photography/ filmmaking stems from my unique upbringing as a young child in an Eritrean household where elders of the community shared childhood experiences and traditional folk stories. As a young child, I was receptive of how impactful the art form of storytelling and how it brings people together.
I did not learn the craft of photography and filmmaking from a traditional academic curriculum. I am a self- taught visual storyteller. As I have learned the technical aspects of using the camera, I study contemporary photographers and filmmakers of color who use the camera to further their unique mission. I am most particularly influenced by the photographer/ filmmaker LaToya Ruby Frazier. As a young black woman, I am inspired by her conviction to share stories of environmental racism experienced in her hometown of Braddock, Pennsylvania from her work, “The Notion of Family”.
Currently, I am working on a photo documentary project covering the loss of affordable housing in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This work is inspired by my current involvement as a housing rights activist and organizer. I work with community members and residents who live in subsidized housing and face the threat of losing their homes to luxury developers. In Minneapolis, the fastest gentrified city in the nation, my aim is to uncover the stories of those who are empowered to organize in solidarity in efforts to preserve access to quality, affordable housing.
As a visual storyteller, I have the conviction to help create social change in our community by exercising the power and impact of the documentary tradition. The lessons I have learned thus far in my experience in visual storytelling is the importance of trust and respect. Trust and respect are my ethos as a photographer and filmmaker. I instill these values when I make human connections and collaborate with like minded souls to make a social impact.
I acknowledge how empowering it is to exercise my creativity. This I have learned from my own personal struggles in life.
I have a background in neuroscience and philosophy. My original career path was to become a physician as it was expected out of me from my family. Throughout college, I felt that I had my path already predetermined. On personal level, the past two years have been challenging for me as I found myself needing to take back my narrative and my passions. I felt tired compromising my essence of being for others’ contentment.
When I made the commitment to myself to delve into creative projects, I learned more about my conviction, my talents, and myself. I picked up the craft of photography and filmmaking earlier this year. I learned from scratch and although the experience was challenging, it was also empowering! I found myself going back to my childhood dreams of becoming a documentary filmmaker/ producer. I also acknowledge that the more time I put into nourishing my craft, I became more confident in what I stand for and how I want to live my life.
Creative expression is conducive to my personal and professional growth. As an introspective individual by nature, I acknowledge my emotions and thoughts during the creative process. By acting creatively, I learn more about myself, my relationship with my surroundings, and the significance of my presence.
As an artist, I struggle with having the confidence to make decisions when situations become challenging. I find myself second- guessing once I have made the choice, too. I come across the manifestation of this problem in how I engage with my own artwork.
I am in the process of improving this feature. To acknowledge this shortcoming is empowering because I am able to respond to my feelings whenever I lack confidence. I do so by staying loyal with my own beliefs, support my own identity and appreciate my own creative style in order to overcome this issue.
I am determined to become a stronger artist. On a professional level, I would like to improve on my documentary filmmaking skill set, as I am interested in becoming a documentary producer / filmmaker. In addition, I would like to learn ways on how I can improve on my writing and develop projects.
I am also determined to become a stronger artist on a personal level. I am eager to share experiences and wisdom from artists of different backgrounds. I believe that in order for one to become stronger, one must be exposed to new surroundings. I will seize the opportunity to experience new challenges, grasp new information, and acquire new perspectives through the NEXUS Professional Development Program.