“Indigenous”, Rashida feels passionately, is the true classic. With a mother from New Mexico who was a Spanish radio DJ and a musician, and a father who turned her on to life as a nomad and to music of all kinds (including “rare Brazilian grooves”), authenticity speaks to her heritage and the treasures of cultural traditions resonate deeply with her. Once something draws you into Rashida’s orbit, whether it is her armful of gold bangles, baskets of folkloric floral shawls, or her perspective into how interconnected we are culturally, all woes over the all-too-pervasive, bland, and unexamined homogeneity of today’s society melt away. As a world class DJ with expansive musical tastes that range from salsa and meringue to hip-hop, punk, funk, and soul — with some Minnie Riperton thrown in — Rashida travels from continent to continent with artists like Prince and Kelis, and doing so has opened her eyes to how the much the world intersects. Her Maasai and Mexican jewelry have elements of one another, and a ceremonial headpiece from Indonesia has similarities to one found in Africa. Rashida goes on to explain that traveling has made her see more clearly how black people in America can be put into a box. In different parts of the world, those with African and West Indian roots have adapted in multifarious ways. Ignorance comes from not knowing, and not seeing, other lifestyles first-hand.
Considering herself a dandy who loves a good uniform and likes to be comfortable and dressed up, Rashida makes no apologies for expressing herself visually. Like her roots, she is powerfully eclectic whether in a vintage tuxedo pant and bolero, a native-print corset, her mother’s marching band hat and patent Moschino flats or in a vintage Oscar de la Renta sequined top with denim cut-offs, a jeweled belt and Chanel mary janes, all topped off and made lush by her jewelry from Abu Dhabi and Thailand. Beginning in high school with tennis clothes and leisure suits until today, in rodeo embroidered clown pants with a sheer, classic American Apparel shirt and leopard wedges, it is clear that the once misfit is now getting the last laugh. Though aware of her power, wielding it in the professional arena is where Rashida struggles. She admires the people who, though they may not be supremely confident, appear to be: “When it comes to being an artist, you’re sensitive… I’ll tear something of mine down before anybody has a chance to praise it. There’s a hurdle for females.” The women portrayed in Rashida’s art are the true, indomitable originals, from Josephine Baker to American Indians. With her dark, penetrating stare framed by the halos of her hats, Rashida says of her art, “It’s all in the eyes. They are the window to the soul.”