I learned A LOT about my acquired ideas, behaviors, and experiences that led me to be the person I was at that time (2017). Today, I can wholeheartedly say I’m the BEST version of myself and continue to become the person I aspire to be.
American University Magazine, March 2019 Issue
By Brad Scriber | Photos by Jeff Watts | Original Article
Two otherworldly turquoise eyes gaze at drivers heading south along Route 1 in Hyattsville, Maryland. The woman’s lashes and brows are bold and black against her bright cyan skin. Her creator, Rashad Ali Muhammad, draped the rest of her head and face with the layered folds of a golden niqab, covered edge-to-edge with wispy sunbursts of color.
The vinyl wrap, part of a beautification project by the Hyattsville Community Development Corporation, has transformed a nondescript traffic signal box—once a target for graffiti—into a public art installation. Last year, 15 traffic boxes across the city were reimagined with murals by nine Prince George’s County artists. Muhammad’s creations—Niqabi and a layered design made of black, white, and red circles called I Am Not Your Target—adorn four of the formerly blighted fixtures in the city, just northeast of DC.
A fine artist, graphic designer, and photographer from Clinton, Maryland, Muhammad takes a “a surreal approach” to portraiture that makes use of striking, unexpected colors in the faces of his subjects. He wants people who admire his art to see themselves in it, “regardless of skin tone.”
His other signature technique is the use of gold leaf to frame those faces. It’s an approach that Muhammad first used to bring vibrancy to an afro in a piece he made for his own blank office walls. He has since gilded his subjects in long, swinging gold leaf braids, voluminous clouds of gold leaf curls, and coronets made of the paper-thin material. The niqab in the original portrait selected for the Hyattsville project was made from gold leaf, adhered to the canvas and then painted to add texture and realism.
A local business owner posted a picture of the installation online, but the real thrill for Muhammad came when he saw it in person and realized that his creation was now an integral part of the landscape. “It’s right there,” he thought to himself, “and it’s going to be there forever.”
Thanks for reading.
artwork immortalized Across Hyattsville, MD
So honored that 2 of my 3 entries were selected among 63 entries for the Hyattsville Community Development Corporation (CDC)’s 2018 Traffic Box Art Wrap Program! The program is a fantastic way to bring art to the community—enhancing the aesthetics of the city and bringing art to people in an unexpected way. Traffic signal cabinets or “traffic boxes,” are the steel structures located near every signalized intersection that are often subject to graffiti and vandalism. Learn more about the program here.
6 out of 31 artists were selected to have their art murals installed on traffic boxes across the city of Hyattsville. 4 of the 15 traffic boxes are adorned with two of my chosen designs (below). The art wraps will remain up indefinitely.
About the pieces
Niqabi is my ode to muslim women. When I see them in their traditional modest garments I always find them mysterious—wondering what beauty lies beneath the veil. In recent years, I love how fashion designers are incorporating lavish fabrics/pattern in their traditional garments allowing women to show their individuality.
I AM NOT YOUR TARGET
This graphic is my abstract approach to my disdain for the upsurge in mass shootings across America. The overlapping of bullseyes and the interwoven red bullseyes depict people standing together in solidarity against gun violence.
As a black man, I’m always affected by the news of shootings and racial stereotyping/harassment because it could easily be me. I’ve certainly had a panic attack/depression dealing with all these events. It’s like, if you knew me as a person you’d know I’m just a fun, vibrant person that wouldn’t harm anyone—unless provoked, of course. But as people we see outward appearances before anything. So if someone saw a statuesque black in a random scenario and they don’t like what I’m doing or feel threatened “just because” then I should be harassed because the color or my skin.
Then, I just have to deal with it because the powers that be aren’t going to be on my side 9 times out of 10. Like what kind of existence is that…UGH.
Anyway, this is my attempt at a positive spin on such a heavy topic.
Thank you for sharing this moment with me.
Crowned in Gold Made Front Page News
My first solo exhibit was a roaring success! So much so that it even made front page news of the local paper, The Prince George’s Sentinel. I worked as my own PR agent, sending out my press release to media contacts in the area—in the hopes that I would get some press coverage, and it worked! So honored and humbled to have my art featured on the front page. This definitely keeps me motivated to do more!
Interested in my promo video services? Contact me today!
Wall ART IS GREAT, WEARABLE ART IS EVEN BETTER!
Wall art doesn’t get the same exposure as fashion. Customizing jackets gives me the opportunity to share my creative vision with the world in a more public atmosphere.
You supply the jacket (leather only) and we’ll work together on a vision for your custom piece.
The Midas Touch
King Midas is one of the most famous kings in Greek mythology, known for his ability to turn everything he touched into gold.
tHE Don’t Blend In, Stand Out Tee
The 2018 March, April and May issues of British GQ feature the Don't Blend In, Stand Out tee in their Fashion collection. I'm so honored they reached out to me to be apart!
I remember it like it was yesterday—checking email on vaca and thinking someone had to be spamming me. I thought to myself, “No way British GQ is reaching out to me to be apart of their magazine.” Then I started thinking—the email was way too detailed to be spam, so I responded and well, the rest is history!
Embrace your boldness
Share your photos with hashtags #standout #ramcreates
111 works of art from 70 artists
It was such an honor to receive the Honorable Mention Crystal Award from Art Impact International at the GOLDEN Juried Art Exhibition! The show was exhibited for National American Elders Month, May 2018. As Art Impact advocates global citizenship, the month-long exhibition featured 111 works of art from 70 artists from over twelve countries including Canada, Croatia, Ethiopia, Guyana, India, Jamaica, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Romania, Trinidad & Tobago, and South Africa.
There were so many incredible artist that I was truly shocked I was chosen for this award. This certainly keeps me motivated to continue to get my art out into the world and expand my artistic limits!
back Again, ALWAYS A BLAST
The April 2017 Pancakes & Booze DC art show was A BLAST! Extremely thankful for everyone that came out to support. The DJs were great, had me dancing around all night. Sold an original piece (yesssssssssssssssssssssss) and PLENTY of prints. So pumped to create more and pursue more shows, thinking of joining the Pancakes & Booze Baltimore art show.
Showed one of my more conceptual pieces, Slaves to Our Masks, and had a great response to my surprise. I'll need to do more conceptual work in the future. The story behind the painting: my interpretation of modern day slavery--we go through the world wearing masks to hide our true identities for fear of not fitting in and being judged/stereotyped. But we are slowly getting to a place in society where we feel more comfortable showing our true natural, beautiful selves without fear of retribution (thus the crack in the mask).
Stay tuned for new work and more shows! Still working on putting together a solo show.
This was my third time joining the line up for the DC Pancakes & Booze and I would venture to say that I'm becoming a mainstay at this event. I love interacting with the crowd and showing my work for this underground art event--bringing more art and culture to the DC area.
THE modern day equivalent to “passing”
“Radical Re-imaginings: Our Racialized Past, Present, and Futures” is an exhibition in association with Woolly Mammoth’s production of An Octoroon by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins. Artist were to respond “to the ways in which America’s racialized past continues to inform our present moment.” An Octoroon is an Obie-winning riff on a 19th century melodrama that helped shape the debate around the abolition of slavery — it’s a provocative challenge to the racial pigeonholing of 1859 and today.
With all the craziness going down today, from Donald Trump’s bigoted primary election campaign to the Black Lives Matter movement in response to the systematic oppression of black lives, An Octoroon and the Radical Re-imaginings exhibit couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time.
Submitted Artist Statement
After reflecting on the submission guidelines I came to the conclusion: We are slaves to the masks we wear for society. Masks are our modern day equivalent to “passing”—serving as a form of self-preservation or protection for social acceptance.
A common theme for all people is the desire to hide our true selves from society. The world has a far reaching racialized past, which is why my work doesn’t depict a specific race through skin tone. It’s time to embrace our individuality and live unapologetically! We are coming into an age where we let our true selves shine.
My work depicts Diversity, Inclusion and Individuality to stimulate deeper self reflection to foster self acceptance and love for our fellow humans. We are all seeking something from life and our heritage shouldn’t hinder our paths. I aim to bring audiences with differing backgrounds together to promote more acceptance and inclusion of varying races, ethnicities, and genders.
Selected piece for Art as Politics
With all of today’s social unrest, nationally and internationally, Donald Trump’s rhetoric amplifies the issues facing America and the world! Instead of making America “Great Again” he will bring society back to a time it SHOULD NOT return to. Will he be the beginning of the end?
Touchstone Gallery’s timely exhibition, ART AS POLITICS, uncovers the voices of artists from across the nation who want their outlooks to be heard along with the current players in the 2016 election cycle.