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Community Member Spotlight: Mariam Naba | Artist & Photographer

Image courtesy of  Tabthia Jackson 

Today we’re excited to introduce you to Mariam Naba. Mariam is an artist and photographer and is also a content partner. Content partners help Voyage in so many ways from spreading the word about the work that we do, sponsoring our mission and collaborating with us on content like this. Check out our conversation with Mariam below.


How is sign language influential in your art pieces?
​ Sign Language is a very influential part that contributes to my art pieces as it is a part of who I am. Because it is a part of who I am it has shown in my pieces throughout the years. As I’m in a constant growth process, whether in the artist mindset or as a personal one, sign language is the way I communicate. I view communication as a way we all see the world. Without communication between people, the interpretation of the world or the sharing of concepts that led to ideas and constant growth becomes limited and even non-existent. As I’ve mentioned before, whether it’s for art or personal, the two have become interdependent on each other and the form of communication I feel understood most in- Sign Language. With that in mind, my work has reflected that perspective on language and specifically sign language, even if my work experiences a constant change, filled with research and experience.

What inspires your work?
​As artists, I think we pull our inspirations from multiple aspects in our lives and the world. I think the most effective inspiration of my work is my experience. The stories and lessons from those around me and the environment that leads me to become who I am is a major factor that leads me to complete my pieces. I think that art represents just as much about the artist as it represents the topic in which the artist is trying to portray in their pieces. Therefore, our own stories and experiences with other stories sometimes are our greatest inspirations because even though we can portray a concept, our lives, opinions, experiences, and perspective towards things is what leads us to those concepts in the artwork.

How is communication experience as a deaf artist allowed you to create the concepts you’re currently completing?
​The way I see it, with people, I have experienced many communication barriers, and with my art I put so many emotions about that that I think the audience ends up understanding the concept of how it feels to be with that communication barrier. That’s not only a barrier between the deaf and hearing world but also between languages. It’s just that, in my own perspective or experience, I’ve seen it more drastically between the deaf and hearing. I’ve had meetings with people who don’t have an understanding or even tend to be hesitant to communicate with a deaf person. I think it’s mostly because of their limited experiences or altercations with the deaf community that results in this attitude towards communicating with deaf people. Seeing these points in society is what led me to understand and want to continue my work in researching and representing language and barriers more.

How do cultures influence art in your opinion?
​Cultures are a huge part of in influencing art. Since we’ve seen art become a part of human life, culture has been one of the main factors that led to its existence to begin with. I use language, which is a part of culture, to feed my inspiration and my own growth as an artist. I’m not the only one that uses languages; however, culture is beyond language. It’s dialect, it’s food and clothes, it’s human interactions and behaviors, and finally it’s human evolution. Those things are inspirational pieces in many works of art, and it’s been feeding the art industry for many years. Those are things that make us who we are, and many artists use who they are and how they view life to make pieces therefore one’s culture is one of the most critical influences of art pieces.

Miriam, we’re so excited to continue our dialogue; we really enjoyed our prior conversations and look forward to introducing you to more our readers and followers.  For those who might have missed our earlier conversations, would you mind briefly introducing yourself?
My name is Mariam Naba, a Deaf artist visualizing communication barriers between the hearing and the deaf world through photography, abstract painting, and art performance. I love to travel as it pushes me, as an artist, to view the world through the perspective of art. Moving homes at a young age has also contributed to my journey and growth as artist.

What are things that are different in the deaf culture?
In the deaf culture we tend to be very blunt and we appreciate honesty since many experiences a sense of pity or “walking around the bush” tones when dealing with the hearing world. Pity is considered to be offensive as we don’t view or identify ourselves with limits. Pity adds to societies placed limits that aren’t true for the deaf culture. That is why, in our culture, our blunt personalities are considered to be a sign of respect or honesty.

Finally, please let us know how our readers can connect with you and learn more.
​ My audience can reach me and work through social media and my website. My Instagram is @naba92. In addition to that, my website is: I hope that everyone can research and view Sign Language with the choice of attempting to connect to the deaf world. It’s visual and beautiful and brings so much emotions that words sometimes fail to explain. With all the communication barriers, sign language still manages to connect. Its foundation was based on connecting people.

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