Multidisciplinary artist Najja Moon has released her first book, titled Finding Out You Are Whole. But for her, the project is more than just a publication. The printed collection was a way for her to step back from her usual style of work, collaboration with others, and identify her newfound sense of self.
"Operating in the space of collaboration has allowed me not to address the things I could probably work on," Moon explains. However, she completed this entire project herself. "With this book and me doing everything, it's kind of been like me staring at myself all the time and being like, I do need to work on this, I do need to work on being more vulnerable with myself and other people and being honest with myself," Moon said.
The 52-page book is a series of linear and abstract drawings accompanied by slices of a manuscript with lines like "Now That You've Seen Me, How Do You Feel?" and "When I cry, I'm not inside myself." The pages are also separated by chapters with titles such as "To: The woman God intended for me" and "my little gay dream."
Moon said the drawings come first and then the text follows. A line like "Thank You For Leaving Things Where They Are; And Taking Care Of What I Unpack," for example, is meant to evoke gratefulness.
"It was me realizing how many things I encapsulate in my life and how I compartmentalize different pieces of myself and how much gratitude I feel when I'm able to unpack some of those compartments and give them to somebody to take care of them," Moon explains.
The book also shares images of Moon working on the project, as well as quotes from local artists and admirers who have read the book and shared their thoughts on it. Even though the style of the book is not as traditionally focused on words, placing the images at the forefront, Moon wants readers to interact with the work the way they would approach any other piece of art.
"I hope some of them are like Wow, I've felt like that before, or [that they] can go back to this as a source of solidarity with somebody."
She said the drawings were a way for her to connect with the world when words don't do emotion justice.
"There is so much infused connotative understanding of what words can mean. You can say one thing, and that language can mean something entirely different for someone else. I think I was having that internal debate with myself and how I express verbally to people and questioning whether or not people get what I'm saying," Moon said. "How can I speak a language that only I speak and then give it to someone else and trust them with it?"
Moon says she's excited now that she's released the project into the world and can see how people receive it. When she began the project, she says, she was questioning everything about herself; she hoped that by creating Finding Out You Are Whole, she'd find confidence in who she is. Now that it's out in the world, she hopes to continue healing and opening up to herself and others.
"It's been a journey," she says.
Finding Out You Are Whole costs $25 via gypsysocialite.com.