Try to find Najja Moon on any given day of the week and you will have one hell of a task fitting into the schedule of someone who is involved in so many different communities in Miami. Miami artist and a multi-faceted creative, Najja brings people together and impacts communities by encouraging connections with others. She is best known for co-founding The BLCK Family and This Girls Lunchbox.
Born and raised in Durham, North Carolina to musician parents Najja has been an artist for as long as she can remember. Thanks to her parents’ encouragement, from a very young age she started exploring the arts via drawing, painting and music. Najja’s creativity and all her projects always come from a very personal place. “Some people create in response to what goes on externally, I create out of a personal need, and often it reflects things that others are looking for. My projects start because as an artist I want to create a reality I enjoy living,” she explains.
After completing undergrad, she moved to South Florida, without a plan, in search of something new and different. Expecting to stay in Miami for a few months, a couple of years perhaps, Najja found herself quickly falling in love with the local culture of the city that went above and beyond the superficial stereotypes of Miami. “For me, Miami is about the people I met here,” says Najja. “When they congregate, great things happen. There really is community, love, and support here. I’m very humbled and honored that some have found that side of Miami in the work I do.”
Najja’s creative journey in Miami started in 2009 when she met Rashaud Michel while working as a production coordinator for a Bollywood film. The two connected, became friends and later partners in founding The BLCK Family – an artist collective that sprung from the mutual need for a place where creativity can flourish. Encompassing so many facets of the artistic community, the project began by offering a dinner series for local artists in 2015 and has grown significantly since then. Today The BLCK Family mobile art shows and pop-up events are co-created by photographer Passion Ward, Miami artist Sukii, poet James Klynn, DJ Spinelli, Shedine Lawrence, Keesha Morisma, Taylor Crosley and Tiffton Meares. The group offers a platform for local creatives to connect and exchange positive energy. Speaking about the collective Najja explains: “BLCK is a space for everyone. The word isn’t a color or race, it’s meant to challenge people, make them feel vulnerable and find strength through connecting with others.”
This Girls Lunchbox is Najja’s second collaboration, this time with artist and activist Octavia Yearwood. The project came along from a common need for a queer space where creative females could meet, convene, network, and grow.
Last month Najja published her first book – a collection of drawings she originally used to find her voice in her own visual practice. Najja began to see a narrative develop in her sketches and realized how much it related to her life and emotions. Although these works were personal and not intended to be published, with the encouragement from the Miami art community, she decided to share her personal experiences with the world. “Finding Out You Are Whole” is a book about getting back to a place of confidence, it’s a celebration in the end of a long journey, and an ode to all the friends, who supported along the way. “It’s too easy to feel inadequate, to internalize personal failures and start self-identifying through them,” says Najja. For her “art is a therapy, a necessity.” Communities fuel creativity, hence facilitate healing.
Even though she is not a Miami native, Najja already considers it home. To Najja, being in Miami means having a world of exposure. This is a city where people tend to pick up their things and move to or pass through. You hear over five languages being spoken every day amongst individuals of countless nationalities. “Being a Miami girl is magic. To be able to see and live here, it’s like being all over the world in one place.”
Najja on paper is a boss running things everywhere at once. Najja in person combines the depth of an analytical thinker with the lightness of a carefree creative. She’s got the “gift of gab” as her “momma says,” and the talent to thrive in different social settings. When not working on her many projects, you can find Najja at a bar in the midst of a conversation, flirting with girls (duh), or riding her bike which she finds to be challenging in Miami’s crazy traffic. Her art goes beyond interpretation, it’s about conversation and connections. When she creates, she creates in order to grow, thus allowing those around her to grow and flourish as well. “Art is a connector. Letting art be the vehicle to stimulate meaningful conversation is the whole point.” What a beautiful point it is.