Keeping Up Community In a Time of Isolation
“Sisterhood is an essential bond that allows women to feel loved, seen, and heard.”
For Black History Month, we’re continuing to highlight Black change-makers shifting the culture and using their identity as a tool to propel them forward, not hold them back. Meet NYC-based digital curator Mariama Jalloh.
During a time where social isolation is being enforced, community cultivator Mariama Jalloh is focused on continuing to encourage collaboration and sisterhood. The founder of Jalloh Studios is working to dismantle the common practice of gatekeeping too often found in creative spaces.
Bridging the gap between community and innovation, Mariama is cultivating a safe space for Black women creatives to flourish. “I am building a creative hub and resource space for Black women artists and creators to network, foster sisterhood, and collaborate,” Mariama explains. We chatted with Mariama about the power of sisterhood and the importance of unity during the pandemic.
How do you identify, and how does your identity influence your work?
As a Guinean and Fulani woman, my identity directly influences my works. Not only did it inspire the name Jalloh Studios, but it was really important that the name reaffirmed the interest and passions of other girls and women in my community who have had similar experiences. Being aware of the power a name holds, coupled with the importance of representation, Jalloh Studios is a virtual imprint and archive of the artistic work and community efforts of Black women today.
Can you give us an overview of the work that you do at Jalloh Studios, and how you started the brand?
At Jalloh Studios, I am building a creative hub and resource space for Black women artists and creators to network, foster sisterhood, and collaborate. Jalloh Studios was born in the Summer of 2019. As a Black woman creative returning to New York City after graduation, I initially struggled to find a welcoming community of creatives to collaborate with, share resources, and form a network of support. When I found out that I wasn’t the only one who experienced this, I felt called to do something about it. Later that year, I created an Instagram page for Jalloh Studios, and what started out as an Instagram page to share inspiration and wisdom about being a creative has grown into a rich sisterhood where talented, creative Black women can come together to grow.
Talk to us about Jalloh Studios community circle discussions. What was your purpose behind holding these discussions, and how do they contribute to the collective’s growth?
Our creative chats are in-person and virtual events that create an affirming and safe space for members to engage in deep discussions that encourage vulnerability, connection, and acceptance. These chats contribute to our collectives growth by fostering community and reaffirming the experiences and narratives of all Black women.
You speak a lot about the power of sisterhood and the importance of communal bonds. What exactly does sisterhood look like and mean to you?
To me, I think sisterhood is very intentional. It takes knowing yourself well, while also knowing what you have to offer to those you are in sisterhood with. I also think that sisterhood is an essential bond that allows women to feel loved, seen, and heard by women experiencing life just like them. It’s a space and bond in which you feel loved and supported at all times.
Last year was a taxing year for many of us, what are some ways you have been staying grounded and inspired during the pandemic?
It has definitely been a very taxing year for many of us. I’ve been trying my best to stay grounded by surrounding myself with a loving and supportive community made up of friends and loved ones. Although the majority of these interactions have been digital, it’s great to have a small group of people you can chat with about things going on in the world and in our lives.
What do you find to be the most rewarding part of working with Black female creatives? What has been your biggest take away working with them?
I find myself feeling so full and fulfilled when working with other Black women creatives. I am always so moved and inspired by their stories, journeys, and accomplishments. Not only are we the blueprint, but we move and shake every space we enter for the better.
“I find myself feeling so full and fulfilled when working with other Black women creatives. Not only are we the blueprint, but we move and shake every space we enter for the better.”
In light of Black History Month, how do you think we (the collective/Black people) should show up and hold space during the month of February?
In light of Black History Month, I think that we can show up and continue to hold space by being ourselves, and for Black people in our lives whenever and however we can.
Words: Taylor Lovett
Photography: Provided by Mariama Jalloh
FEBRUARY 22, 2021