We All We Got!: 5Questions with TribeFest DC Founder Maryam Foye

Maryam Fatima Foye is a creative entrepreneur thriving at the intersection of artist, community advocate and Momma. Her work seeks to critique and influence the way society responds to social and racial inequities. Also, she is so much more. With Tribefestdc around the corner, we asked her five questions about her mission and her moves. Check out her answers below.

Follow Maryam on Instagram along with HBC Arts and TRIBEFESTDC on Instagram.

1. Describe your perfect day.

I used to take myself on private retreats. Last year, I rented a cabin somewhere in the sticks of Virginia. It was so cute. I was surrounded by trees and little creeks and nature noises. There was no wifi; faint cell phone signal. I woke up to watch the sunrise. Spent the morning on the porch drinking coffee and doing nothing. No emails, no “other people’s urgent” tasks. I made jewelry, wrote letters to people I missed. Slept whenever I felt like it. My perfect day I guess is me somewhere, probably anywhere sitting still being quiet and having the luxury of existing in my own thoughts. Add a cute cabin and its golden. Probably should make this happen soon.

2. TRIBEFESTDC is coming up. Tell us a little about it and why you started it?

TRIBEFESTDC is a project that is intended to create collaborations between artists, District residents and local lawmakers that will fruit positive social change. A thought and strategy sharing space. I started it because I’m an artist very interested in the ways art can transform perspectives and support initiatives that directly impact policy. There was a period of time when I was always frustrated about doing too little in the fight for modern-day liberation of Black people, women, and children. I found mentors that taught me how valuable my artistry could be and they aligned me with advocating tactics to strengthen my position in this fight for an equitable society. Everyone doesn’t have amazing mentors. I don’t want to be a mentor but I want to share what I know works and learn from others on what they do that works. In my mind, I’m growing a network of creative change agents and allies to that network. I hope that is what others get from it.

3. You recently made a move from DC to New Orleans. Has that affected your creative output in any way?

Well, I’m living between the two. Eventually, I will live full time in New Orleans. Yeah, I don’t know how to articulate how it has but yes. I worked so hard in DC to just live; you know like eat and what not. This made me resent my art sometimes; like my art became real work. I’m finding it easier to live in NOLA which makes it okay to create in my way. I’m working on a pretty research-heavy verbatim theatre piece right now. It’s solid good work that doesn’t feel like work.

4. Much of your work centers around community activism and healing. How do you sustain yourself in this practice?

I’m not an activist. Not even a little bit. I’m an advocate. I didn’t always do the best job at sustaining myself. If you mean, protecting myself. The healing work is very accidental. I don’t call myself a healer, I just answer the phone. I think being present even when I don’t want to be is harmful but I’ve done it consistently for years. I have no idea. I don’t allow people to change my position on how I wish to interact in spaces, I cry, watch BBC movies on Hulu. I don’t have a strategy outside of my faith practice. I do the work, remain present and pray one day there will be less work to do.

5. How do you see yourself now as compared to 5 years ago? What are you most proud of?

Five years ago I was poppin’. Money was good, the skin was flawless. Businesses booming. I was lit. I am still quite lit. Much more refined. Everything in my life isn’t about the response to my work like it was then. I had a rough turn. While my business output was high, the income was low. I made big changes very quickly to protect my family. I even changed my phone number. I guess I’ve redefined what success looks like to me. I have a child now, real responsibilities so I’m most proud that I am wise enough not to view change as failure and soft enough to submit to the will of the Most High when necessary for myself and my son. I’m out here living for the good of our spirit, not our pocket. That’s a game changer.

TRIBEFESTDC happens this weekend June 7th-9th.

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