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Aja Wiley, Visual Artist, Curator, Founder

Aja Wiley is a visual artist and curator. She is also the founder of FIFTY FIFTY, a creative community that seeks to uplift the stories of underrepresented artists through art, food, and community programming. Her work centers Black women, femme, trans, and queer experiences. She also likes cooking, the beach, and bad tv. 

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3. Why is mutual aid so important for the future you wish to create?

To me, mutual aid really comes down to taking care of the most vulnerable. Once the most vulnerable people in our society feel taken care of, inherently so will everyone else. I think ultimately I just want to be a part of something that’s working towards making everyone feel safe.

4. What makes you hopeful during bleak times? 

The homies!! It’s so inspiring to see my friends work — on themselves, on their passion projects, on their businesses, on their relationships. I’m truly blown away by all of my friends and their energy to go after what they want despite any odds. 

5. Book rec?

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner & Art on My Mind by bell hooks

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1. What inspired you to start 50/50?

I started working in art spaces (museums & galleries) about 7 years ago and while I thought I would love it, there was often a disconnect. Most spaces lacked representation and a sense of community. I started FIFTY FIFTY as a way to carve out more space for marginalized creatives and their stories. I want to create a community where we feel safe to be ourselves, authentically and unapologetically.

2. What does community mean to you?

Community to me means showing up for people — whether it’s cooking a meal for someone, putting people on to an opportunity, pulling up to your friend's event, collaborating on projects, sharing resources or information, providing mentorship or advice, etc. This list goes on, but really just being there for people and wanting to see them grow and succeed. 

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