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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Muhammed Sillah – Lifting in Style

Two of the untitled pieces from Mohammed Sillah´s Lifting In Style. Form and bdoy combine to create a rich texture of unrestrained sensuality
Two of the untitled pieces from Mohammed Sillah´s “Lifting In Style.” Form and bdoy combine to create a rich texture of unrestrained sensuality

By Erin Preiato Contributing Writer

There are many talented young individuals here on our humble UMASS Boston campus. But today I will highlight one particular very special person with a very big heart. His name is Muhammed K. Sillah and I had the pleasure of not only interviewing him, but working with him as well. Muhammed is originally from Liberia, West Africa, where he was a member of the Mandingo tribe. The Mandingo tribe is the largest tribe in West Africa and has a culture that is closely related to Middle Eastern culture. Muhammed left Liberia and came to Boston with his brother after escaping genocide.

When Muhammed came to Boston, he started working and spent one year studying at the New England School of Photography. For the next three years, he became a web developer, and then found himself at UMASS Boston where he currently studies Information Systems Management. Muhammed also works at Student Life and is involved with many different school activities, such as this past Saturday’s Black Student Center fashion show in which he worked as both a model and a designer.

But Muhammed’s biggest passion is photography, and he is currently working on a project that focuses on form and tonality. His main goal for the project is to use 12 models and capture the human form in black and white artistic nudes. Upon completion, Muhammed will be using two photos from each shoot to create a 24-photo exhibit. The exhibit, entitled Lifting In Style, focuses on the idea of working with photography in lifting someone’s spirits to prove they are beautiful.

This past fall, Muhammed showed his first exhibit of still life photos at his studio, BorisBlackStudios, in Dorchester. He just opened his studio and finds it to be a convenient workspace that helps him with creativity, which is why he took on the challenge of this second project. Muhammed always felt that human form was difficult to shoot, but decided to take on the challenge in order to achieve the level of skill and artistic ability that he is looking for. He wanted to shoot a diverse group of people, and chose models of all different colors, sizes, and ages. This is how I met Muhammed and became involved with his project Lifting In Style.

I was asked to participate as a model, and didn’t quite understand the whole naked concept at first. I thought what!? Me!? No way! I never thought I would be able to stand in front of a practical stranger…naked. However, I thought it would make for a pretty good story, and who doesn’t want to look hot in black and white artistic nudes. Plus, Muhammed quickly eases any tension through his casual, easygoing attitude and makes you feel absolutely comfortable in front of a camera. In the end, I was happy that I went through with it, and love the way the photos came out. I want to thank Muhammed for giving me the opportunity to be in his exhibit and for a wonderful experience.

The exhibit is close to being complete and will take place at BorisBlackStudio. Everyone that attends will be able to meet all of the models and speak with them about their experiences. While the exhibit is taking place, Muhammed is also building a website that will have the exhibit available for online viewing. The website will also feature six pictures of each model versus the two that will be on display at his studio. The website can be located at msphotoworks.com, however, it will not be up and running until the exhibit has been completed. To learn more about Muhammed’s passion I sat down with him to ask him a few questions.

MASS Media -How did you become interested in photography?

Muhammed Sillah – I have always loved pictures. Anything visual is my cup of tea. I do not have idols like many but when I see a form that I appreciate, I picture it through my viewfinder. I started being interested in photography since I was about five years old. I have been practicing photography for the past seven years; I also attended the New England School of Photography.

MM – Where and of what did you start taking photos? What is your favorite

thing to photograph?

MS – I started taking pictures of my trip to America. It was fun since that was the first time I could afford a 35mm camera. I took pictures of family members, friends, and landscapes in Liberia. When I go to Guinea, I continue taking pictures of a new country and an extension of my family.

MM – How did you come up with this idea for your current project “Lifting in Style”?

MS – I came up with this idea from viewing exhibits of people with the perfect figures as society view it and I have seen magazines of the perfect women and men. I believe that the perfect figure is in everyone. To prove it and enhance my photographic abilities in a new and different medium compare to my traditional still life and landscapes, I came up with the idea “Project Lifting in Style.” By lifting in style, I can show the beauty and form of every female and male regardless of weight and color.

MM – Has this been an overall pleasant experience?

MS – It has been a challenging but pleasant experience. I love being creative but this has been challenging because the subjects are people compared to things. With things compared to people, I can always redo a session but since I am not paying people for their time, I need to be very productive the first time for every model.

MM – What do you have planned for the future?

MS – I have not planned that far ahead in relation to art but I am writing a business plan to start a non-profit organization after graduation. I am optimistic that my idea is going to change the landscape of non-profit. The business plan spans a five-year period and I am looking forward to seeing it materializes. However, my arts of photography, clothing and web designs, and poetry will not take a back seat since they are the bigger half of my life.