A collection of people and memories I want to hold forever.

Azha Ayanna. Photo: Damien Maloney.

Azha Ayanna. Photo: Damien Maloney.

When I think of style, I think of undeniable individuality and self-expression. Style isn’t really about clothing; it’s more about how you carry yourself in it.

These images were taken in places I frequent, places where I’ve loved and lost, places I’ve grown or places that have made me who I am now. I wanted to depict and document how style can be a shield, an illusion, a comfort; something thought out, or thrown together. Style gives us love, warmth, and most importantly, it gives us agency over our bodies and how we are perceived.

Esra; Oakland.

Esra; Oakland.

Skye; Berkeley.

Skye; Berkeley.

Kamal Jahi in May; BART Station.

Kamal Jahi in May; BART Station.

Kamal Jahi; West Oakland.

Kamal Jahi; West Oakland.

Drea; Franklin St. Parking structure.

Drea; Franklin St. Parking structure.

El and Al; West Oakland.

El and Al; West Oakland.

Alex Shen; Dimond District.

Alex Shen; Dimond District.

Fiz; Downtown Oakland.

Fiz; Downtown Oakland.

Rene; Oakland Chinatown Mall.

Rene; Oakland Chinatown Mall.

summer fucking mason; Oakland.

summer fucking mason; Oakland.

Drea, Lena, Richard, Rene, and Fiz; Chinatown, Oakland.

Drea, Lena, Richard, Rene, and Fiz; Chinatown, Oakland.

Darren; Chinatown, Oakland.

Darren; Chinatown, Oakland.

Rewina Beshue; San Francisco.

Rewina Beshue; San Francisco.

Sasha; Oakland.

Sasha; Oakland.

Queens; Oakland.

Queens; Oakland.

Apryl Fuentes; Oakland.

Apryl Fuentes; Oakland.

Dev Hynes (Blood Orange) is forever an inspiration. He’s an icon and a down-to-earth person who’s been very kind throughout many hard times in my life. Blood Orange is my Prince and my David Bowie. His music was the soundtrack to a queer Black girl’s lonely Muni commutes across San Francisco in 2013. Fast-forward to 2019 — he’s still creating BIG and important meaningful things that resonate with her.

This is Janet Mock’s amazing intro to one of my favorite Blood Orange song, “Jewelry”:

So, like, my favorite images
Are the ones where…
Someone who isn’t supposed to be there
Who’s like in a space, a space where
We were not ever welcomed in or we were not invited
Yet we walk in and we show all the way up
People try to, put us down by saying
“She’s doing the most” or “he’s way too much”
But, like, why would we want to do the least?

As the song unfolds, the softness and smoothness of the vocals hug you. A chorus later repeats, “Nigga I’m feeling myself!” Like those words, these images are about presenting yourself knowing you are indeed showing up and doing the most.

My name is Azha Ayanna, and I am an artist based in Oakland, California, supporting and loving my friends and chosen family every day.

Azha Ayanna. Photo: Damien Maloney.

Azha Ayanna. Photo: Damien Maloney.

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