In my previous work I discussed an article that I wrote designer/muralist named HallaModa. Back in early April, a mural Moda had contributed to (in the partnership with the Culture Cocoa Arthouse Inc.) located on Hollis and 198th street, had been vandalized by an unknown assailant. What this updated interview will discuss is going to amaze you about how Moda and his colleagues handled the situation as he explained to me:
The word “blood” was written on the far left and a crudely drawn line had been drawn through the mural. Because of the sudden info, my partner at the time Extraordinary One, had contacted several outsources and was able to get “Pix11” among “NY1” and even a local queens politician. At first Extraordinary One had wanted to leave the mural unchanged feeling disappointed that some alleged civilian would do this. My Co-partner, John Hailey, and I were able to persuade her to change the mural before the media could make it about negative story. Most people were drawn to the gang reference and it would only draw the community further apart. We all decided it be best to use the opportunity to bring the community together. By involving the students at the Muralist Apprenticeship Class we teach in South Jamaica Houses, we were able to move quickly the night before media had arrived. By implementing African Adinkra signs and changing the word “BLOOD” into “BE LOVED” we were able to succeed in doing so. People rejoiced and seemed to have forgotten about the unknown assailant, furthermore bringing economy and peace in our community.”
When Moda told me about what occurred he said to me, “You know Hollie, it’s people like that in this world are the reason that we cannot prosper and live life. They think that they are succeeding in tearing down the community but in fact they are helping us to rise in strength.” HallaModa is the definition of a person with true artistic vision. He contributed to turning the words on the mural that spelled out “Blood” into “Beloved” and made the mural stand for something even stronger than before. Moda’s message was that you cannot tear down a community that stands for something and stands together.
Since my last encounter with Halla Moda he has hosted many art events as well as creating new murals. On April 26, 2016, Moda was a featured artist for Culture Cocoa’s Art-house event called “Heart Night” which was a live painting event where he painted art onto nude models. Moda had also hosted open mics and other live paintings. HallaModa had been a volunteer assistant, teaching art classes for the youth and helping them to learn how to paint murals as well as other art pieces. About three days ago Moda had helped to complete a new mural which titled, “An Endless Moment in Time” located in the staircase at The Cornerstone Community Center on 161st and 109 avenue, Jamaica, Queens. The design and concept of the mural was driven by the youth that he taught as well as his other colleagues that helped to create the mural. He explained to me, “The mural is combined from different ideas from the students and teachers as well as myself. It represents our cultural heritage, reflecting the times, universal peace and even features inspiring individuals from us all such as Aaliyah, Kendrick Lamar, Jimi Hendrix, my brother Hanif and more. I drew that piece myself; my piece is dedicated to the ages to come and for those that have gone. It’s about understanding between all ages and groups of people. It’s like the motto goes, “each one, teach one!” Help to spread peace love and positivism more often. We are indeed the human race.” On the mural you will see vibrant and bright colors as well as children playing and attending school. The mural has everything from the children, to their influences of musical artists to spiritual symbols, all representing peace and love. Whoever visits this mural will be brought to a place of happiness and serenity.
Moda had mentioned that his brother was on the mural because he had such a huge impact on his life and who he became. He explained to me that his brother is the reason that he is the person he is today:
“My brother still plays a very important part of my life. He was very strong and is a constant reminder of why I should persevere; pursuing my art career and more. His life was cut short at the age of 17. Primarily a skater on the rise, an artist, designer and creator, Ishmael Hanif “Neef Roxx” Abdul-Hakim had already put forth a legacy that lives on through myself and others. We often discussed our future plans even teaching each other what we learned along the way. Both of us wanted to be artists. Hanif was focused more on illustration/cartoonist, while I strayed more into fine arts. He would never let me give me any excuses for myself why I couldn’t do something. And so I take on whatever challenges that lie ahead. Anything I want to learn, I seek it out myself, as that’s what Hanif would expect from me.
My brother risked his life protecting a friend; a smaller kid being picked on by some local juvenile. I was in school at the time, 18, and had been kicked out of my home for pursuing this life I lead. My brother was 17 at the time and the young man 19. Hanif had gotten into a physical dispute while I was away and won. A few weeks after my return in October, the bully was picking on his friend again. I was walking in to the store when it happened. He was attacked by the boy and his grandmother. Held by the grandmother and stabbed by the boy. I barely got to see him when I got back — our mom had left him to start a new family in GA and we were all we had. In his last moments he showed me an immense amount of strength. His dreams and goals were to be a successful artist and I will make sure of it. To know me, Hallamoda -the Fashion, is to know and appreciate Neef Roxx -the Rockstar.
Everything that HallaModa, creates or conducts is in honor of his brother, this is his way of allowing his brother to live on and be heard. Teaching the youth not only inspires them to be great, but it leads them in a path of positivism. Every human is shaped by the environment they are surrounded by, if they grow up in a negative environment the chances of them making the wrong decisions are more likely than that of someone who grows up in a positive environment. As we grow older we are more conscious of our actions as well as the people we choose to become. It is important to teach children while they are young, that they have the potential to be someone great, that they can succeed at anything they put their minds to and that peace is possible, it starts with every individual and the choices they choose to make. HallaModa will be hosting another event on July 3rd at KOA restaurant on W21st St NY 10010 which will be a showcase event for underground artists, featuring exclusive art live painting music spoken work and more.