“Notes, a picture, something that reminds me of that thing.” “That thing” is Moda’s emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual state when stumbling upon a creative vision. From cars to canvases, sculpture to fashion, eternal innovation runs through Moda’s veins.
Moda, MR. MODA, Hallamoda-The Fashion: a man of many names, and even more talent. Born Hassan Abdul-Hakim, the brilliantly multifaceted artist from Jamaica, New York is nothing less than active on all grounds.
Upon opening the glass door of Moda’s studio, he greeted us with a warm hug filled with excitement, as if his abundant, warm energy had electrified my own body. Gratitude was palpably mutual.
To the left of the window was a white, porcelain-like statue of a dog with a gas mask layered on top of his head. To the right of the door were high yellow Manolo's covered in
Pikachu miniatures. With a wide grin and a hearty laugh, he exclaimed, “Pika-shoes!”
Moda’s multimedia studio is busy with color, fabric, Gameboys, sewing machines, and some of his oldest fashion pieces that he never intends on selling.
The artist’s favorite medium is fashion, with no preference for the type of material. The right-hand wall of his showroom is lined with racks of clothing, filled with tweed blazers, safety-pinned skirts, leather jackets, jean dresses, and shoes galore. Each piece is blessed with Moda’s craft, whether it is the composition of the fabrics, fabric marker, spray paint, or patchwork. It is safe to say that Moda’s brand is easily identifiable. Upon my observational comments, he replied, “style is eternal.”
One of the ways in which he employs his talent is to give back and unite his community, influenced by the passing of his younger brother, Hanif, who he lost to violence. He has held mural fundraisers and implemented several art programs in after-school sessions dedicated to children and young adults, with the goal of spreading love and creativity to combat hate and brutality.
Moda led us on a tour through his studio-gallery in North Miami with a smile from ear to ear, never out of words, and never out of breath. Younity Studios, located in Miami, Florida and founded by Moda himself in 2019, is just one of his impactful passion projects and establishments.
Hallamoda described to Artist Weekly that, “Younity Studios embodies compassionate, purposeful ambition…while embracing our imperfections and advocating for life’s balance and harmony. Our art brings people together and creates conversations that supersede people’s differences.”
Attached to his studio is Picadillo Art Gallery, which Moda explains “we are trying to create an ecosystem of artists,” providing the resident artists with workspaces and studios.
As Moda energetically escorted us through Younity Studios and Picadillo Art Gallery, he also led us through his 10-piece multi-media canvas collection called “How To: Bean Artist,” dedicated to his son Ishmael. Moda quite literally attaches his son where credit is due, especially in How To: Make Love, where his original birth tags make an appearance on the wall-sized canvas.
Moda semi-shot down the myth that an artist can never be done with their work, explaining, “For me, when you say ‘is it ever finished,’ this collection? No. This piece? Yeah. It has to be, because it was a time, and I only learned this through the time of me being an artist.”
In this all-encompassing, highly sensory and complexly eye-catching collection, he highlights the beauty of unconventionality, which is the individuality of humanity. He matches biology with machinery, as science compliments spiritual endeavors. Infused in each of the ten pieces in the same concept of uniqueness.
The contrasting morals that formulate the composition of each individual piece are meant to be vague. Moda asserts that, "based on the people I respect in the art game and based on the way that I've been taught, I want to keep a sense of true artistic integrity. It's open to interpretation."
While he compares each individual piece to a time record of specific phases and places that represent him as an artist, Moda explains, “I was thinking about all of the things, why am I here,” when I interjected with a laugh, “existential crisis mode!” “Right,” he continued, “thinking about how am I going to get those things that I deserve, that I feel I deserve, do I even deserve them? All of those things are what helped create this series and how I can tell where I’m at.” Not only does each piece reflect his state of artistry, but even more of being purely human.
If you examine the left-hand image of How To: Lose Control (left) and How To: Build The Perfect Wombman V.3 (right), you’ll observe the obvious color difference between the two blue canvas backgrounds. Moda's first version of How To: Build The Perfect Wombman V.3 was shockingly stolen, which forced him to re-make and replace it in order to complete the series. Moda explained, "when I went to get [the paint] to re-duplicate the piece, it was mixed with more of a warm color, which made it cold almost. How bizarre."
Moda and I met at an event, where I challenged him to “show me what he’s got” on a pair of my black Zara pants, faux-alligator stiletto boots, and a miniature Chanel bag. Four days later, I ended up at his studio.
“Let me get in my zone,” Moda declared as he excitedly clasped each earbud, as if in standing by him, he had transported into a whole new world of creativity.
He laid the faux-leather pants onto a cloth-guarded, unfolded table-top, adorned with armfuls of spray paint and markers. Each of his hands slipped into gloves while a gas-mask protected the inhale of fumes, the body inside of his structured vest and the mind between his ethereal music began.
Moda’s creation process can be described as sophisticatedly chaotic, calculated customization, high-alert, and intense, unwavering attention to each detail. Similar to how one may experience his art, in that each time you look closer you discover something new, Moda uses delicate impulsivity in his craft.
While Moda placed the high heeled booties in the sun to dry on the boiling parking lot concrete ground, he made complex touches to the pants before tossing them onto a high-relief cement structure, then turning his attention to the handbag. The artist’s intern, Max, also a talented artist and aspiring fashion designer, taped the metals while Moda made time to breathe and speak to the crowd who had gathered around his spot. He had only noticed once he removed his ear buds.
“I don’t get distracted by people who come over, people are always in and out, but when I’m in my zone, I’m in my zone,” Moda responded to my asking about his concentration. After a few quick chats, Moda was back in action, music blaring, and spray paint in hand. He made his rounds, retouching the boots, sealing the leather pants, and stylizing the decorations, reading “CHANEL” on the backside of the purse.
What’s next for Moda? Well, the real question is, what isn’t next for Moda? The world is in front of him, and with an already impressive list of clientele and popular demand in canvas and fashion. We can expect that he continues to expand his extensive How To: Be an Artist series. But, he idealizes turning those notes, those memories, those seconds of significance that he writes and expresses into his artwork into another medium, music.
“I remember everything. I write notes. It’s funny because it actually started turning into music. Working on a music project is my next project.”
Samantha Fencil, Editor
Younity Studios: @younitystudios
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