SIDEBAR: Faheem Majeed and Aiyah Josiah-Faeduwor
Join us for a conversation with artist Faheem Majeed and community-based researcher Aiyah Josiah-Faeduwor as each present their work, dialogue about their collaborative efforts and think through strategies for impactful modes of collaboration. The event is free and open to the public. Food and drink will be served from 6:00- 6:30.
Faheem Majeed (American, b. 1976) is a builder—literally and metaphorically. A resident of the South Shore neighborhood in Chicago, Majeed often looks to the material makeup of his neighborhood and surrounding areas as an entry point into larger questions around civic-mindedness, community activism, and institutional critique. As part of his studio practice, the artist transforms materials such as particle board, scrap metal and wood, and discarded signs and billboard remnants, breathing new life into these often overlooked and devalued materials. His broader engagement with the arts also involves arts administration, curation, and community facilitation, all of which feed into his larger practice.
Majeed received his BFA from Howard University and his MFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). From 2005-2011, Majeed served as Executive Director and Curator for the South Side Community Art Center (SSCAC). In this role he was responsible for managing operations, staff, programs, fundraising, curation, and archives for the SSCAC. During his time with the SSCAC, Majeed curated exhibitions of numerous artists including Elizabeth Catlett, Dr. David Driskell, Charles White, Jonathan Green, and Theaster Gates. Majeed was selected as the inaugural artist in residence for University of Chicago’s Arts in Public Life Initiative (2012), MANA Contemporary Chicago (2014), and Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (2015). From 2013 – 2015 he served as the associate director and faculty of UIC’s School of Art and Art History. While at UIC he taught classes in museum collections and socially engaged art practices. Currently, Faheem is a full-time, practicing artist and creates work in his South Shore studio.
Aiyah Josiah-Faeduwor and his 4 siblings; two older brothers and two younger sisters were born in the U.S. and benefited from the privilege of American citizenship, as well the privilege and prejudice that came with growing up in low-income predominantly Black and Latinx inner-city urban communities. Aiyah’s parents came to the U.S. from Sierra Leone to pursue education and the opportunity to raise a family, but after his father amassed 5 degrees in the math and science fields between Clemson University and the University of West Virginia, a bitter divorce between his parents, and his mother’s bout with alcoholism, at 12 years old Aiyah and his siblings found themselves under their fathers care as a single dad with sole custody and in subsidized housing in Boston, Massachusetts. Throughout the next impactful and formative years, Aiyah watched his two older brothers take to the streets and end up being incarcerated before graduating high school. Feeling the need and the pressure to be an example for his two younger sisters, he academically excelled in high school and beyond by not only being the first of his siblings to graduate high school, but by also applying to and being admitted into the Brown University class of 2009. Guided by his lived experience, connection to his community, and passion for envisioning a different future for future generations of young people, he graduated in 2013 majoring in Public Policy with a focus in education policy.
Following graduation, he did two years of AmeriCorps service as a College Advisor in a Providence Public High school, and the Community College of Rhode Island as a part of the National College Advising Corps, supporting low-income inner city students like his former self with the college application process. Understanding that access isn’t the only lever for success, he then served as a Director of Operations at a nonprofit in the South Side of Providence, the OIC of Rhode Island, supporting South Side residents with barriers to employment such as criminal backgrounds, lack of work experience, undocumented statuses, and etc to secure job training and employment opportunities. Seeking to better support this population at the state level, Aiyah began working as a Grant Advisor for the Rhode Island Department of Labor where he reviewed and approved of grant applications between public and private partnerships for workforce development efforts.
Currently at MIT, pursuing a dual MBA and Master in City Planning degree between MIT’s Sloan School of Management and its Department of Urban Studies and Planning, Aiyah Josiah-Faeduwor is seeking to bring both his lived experience and professional experiences together in order to help build communities globally, particularly around creating and sustaining independent systems of social, economic, and political support. Aiyah sees the future of his work being deeply engaged and entrenched within urban communities and community institutions to co-develop their own resources and establish centers that provide community residents with the kinds of support that have been historically and systemically withheld by the imperialist, racist, patriarchal and capitalist structures embedded in the American geopolitical landscape.