Gurl Power

Arts collective builds community for creative women of color.

By Gabriella Souza - October 2016

Gurl Power

Arts collective builds community for creative women of color.

By Gabriella Souza - October 2016

From left: Khadija Nia Adell, Jessica Hyman, Jenné Afiya, and Stephanie Wallace. -Photography by Justin Tsucalas

The Balti Gurls never expected success. The women in this 2-year-old arts squad simply wanted a place to collaborate and share experiences and perspectives about the local art scene in which they felt marginalized.

“The first meeting we had, there were 12 of us sitting around a table,” says member Khadija Nia Adell. “I remember leaving and feeling so powerful, like we were really about to start something.”

Since then, the Balti Gurls—eight women of color, ages 19 to 28, whose talents range from being DJs to mixed-media artists—have packed houses at Station North’s Impact Hub and Penthouse Gallery, and won acclaim for Edge Control, their seasonal music and art show. This year, they were also the recipients of a grant from The Grit Fund, by The Contemporary—Baltimore’s nomadic art museum.

Now the Balti Gurls are on the hunt for a permanent place of their own, where they can continue their unique blend of community gatherings, film screenings, and music performances, plus have studios and special programming focused on the next generation of creatives.

“Even if we’re at different places in our lives, having the space would solidify what we’re doing in the city, and be a gift to future generations of artists and creatives,” says founder Jenné Afiya. “It would be a space where people of color can come together to create.”





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