Photography by: Halley Roberts Story by: Mike Beavers

Salihah finds inspiration in her daily observations of the world, from white desert dunes to the egrets of Drake's Bay. Textile artists, such as Sonia Delaunay, have been recent sources of inspiration. Studying and drawing from their styles, Salihah creates unique, woven patterns in her beadwork. Each piece possesses a distinct palette, usually landscape-inspired, some flashing fiery reds and others reflecting cool watery landscapes. She describes a pendant necklace of shimmering black and white seed beads dappled with red, green, and yellow as “scrambling over ocean rocks, lying in warm dirt, looking between pine needles and bathing in sea foam.” Complementary and asymmetrically paired pieces, such as earrings, are the surreal translations of a single moment into functional and wearable art.

“The connection between her art and the shifting challenges of parenthood can be seen in her creative process, a process marked by a meditative mindset; Salihah rarely begins her work with a predetermined design plan. Instead, she develops each piece intuitively, allowing the design to manifest with unforced intention.”

A self-described folk artist, Salihah began selling small paintings at Friday Art Walks in Philadelphia, and later expanded her work to include jewelry and bags. After shifting platforms from art walks to craft fairs, she became more interested in printing on fabric and creating "mystic beings," printed images of magical creatures with whimsical stories and special powers, sewn into pillow-like forms. Beadwork began figuring into her art after she and a friend taught themselves to work with seed beads in an East Philadelphia bar.

At the heart of Salihah's varied artistic explorations lies a drive to make picture books about mysticism and science. A few years ago, musician Douglas Kirby invited her to collaborate as an illustrator on a project called Sun Ships—a reanimation of "a sun cycle mythology from 1500, B.C., from the shores of what would become Scandinavia,”—and she visited him in Bolinas. After three weeks of working together, the pair decided to get married. She and Douglas moved into a loft in Bolinas and a year later their daughter Amadine was born. The project is still in progress.

In addition to working as an artist, Salihah is trained as a doula. She has always "really wanted to be a mom" and cites motherhood as an inspiration in her work. A piece titled “Morning Moon” employs a palette inspired by “the moon setting behind the Inverness Ridge while the sun rose.” The connection between her art and the shifting challenges of parenthood can be seen in her creative process, a process marked by a meditative mindset; Salihah rarely begins her work with a predetermined design plan. Instead, she develops each piece intuitively, allowing the design to manifest with unforced intention.

Recently, Salihah moved from Marin County to a new home just outside of Boulder, Colorado, for its manageable cost of living. Salihah hopes to continue her work as a doula and natural birth advocate in her new community. On the land, they plan to build a permaculture site and plant a dye garden and spend as much time as possible with Amadine.