Artist Hassan Hajjaj creates portraits to support LA’s Skid Row.

Introducing the Heroes and Sheroes postcard campaign.

Best known for his ability to transform his subjects using custom made garments and his relationship to re-imagining contemporary Moroccan culture, artist Hassan Hajjaj has been dubbed the ‘Andy Warhol of Marrakech.’ And for good reason.

Hajjaj’s colorful, unique portraiture draws attention to everyday heroes.

Hajjaj’s gorgeous portraits feature vibrant colors and unexpected subjects that are accessorized and magnified through outfits and styling ranging from faux-luxury jumpsuits to bright socks and plastic shades.

As seen in his inaugural exhibition at LACMA, aptly named My Rock Stars, Hajjaj uses his portraits as a platform to illuminate a diverse group of people, all of whom are “rockstars” in their own ways – from the street musicians and henna women of Marrakech to the Gnawa music masters of Morocco.

Mr. James ©Hassan Hajjaj, 2009/1430. Courtesy of the Artist.

At this year’s Summit LA festival, a gathering of entrepreneurs, leaders, innovators and creatives from all over the world, Hajjaj transformed and photographed event participants in a pop-up photobooth experience reminiscent of his home studio in Marrakech.

From loading suitcases of bespoke outfits on his international flight to then snagging local blankets and plastic accessories from the shops in the Fabric District blocks away, Hajjaj’s artistic process was, and always has been, quite renegade. Popping up in an alleyway in DTLA, Hassan then constructed makeshift photo studios, transporting subjects into his world by playing new, unreleased Moroccan music from a Bluetooth speaker while styling and photographing his guests.

For Freedoms crew inside Hassan’s pop up studio at LA18.

However, upon arriving in Downtown Los Angeles from northern Africa, Hajjaj quickly felt the unsettling contrast between the wealth concentration of Summit guests and the surrounding poverty of Downtown Los Angeles.

Since a core part of the Summit experience is about connection and community, Hajjaj decided to focus and use his artwork as a tool to raise awareness of this dichotomy by handpicking a few select Summit participants that embodied activism, ingenuity, or leadership to be featured in his newest series

Heroes and Sheroes.

From the co-founder of Black Lives Matter and CEO of Conservation International to the creative director of March For Our Lives, Summit’s Art Director, Alex Zhang, noted that “these portraits are meant to shed light on the activists and entrepreneurs that use their talent and creative energy to push the world forward.”

The full biographies and portraits of these heroes are available below, as is the full gallery from LA18.

In order to drive further awareness to these select projects, Hassan Hajjaj, in partnership with Summit and GOOD, will release Heroes and Sheroes in a limited edition set (200) of fine art postcards available for purchase with all profits supporting the local DTLA non-profit The Los Angeles Community Action Network (LA CAN), a grassroots organization that works on the issues of poverty, homelessness, health, policing and decarceration on and around Skid Row.

Priced at $100, each limited edition postcard set costs roughly $30 to produce -- enabling Summit and GOOD to raise upwards of $15,000 for LA CAN. Postcard sets will be available for a limited window of two weeks from February 8th to February 22nd. Click here to purchase.

Heroes and Sheroes

Opal Tometi, Activist

Opal Tometi — Co-founder, Black Lives Matter

Opal Tometi is an acclaimed human rights defender, strategist, and writer of Nigerian-American descent. She is known for her role as a co-founder of Black Lives Matter and for her service as the Executive Director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI). Through these respective efforts, Opal works to embolden Black communities to defeat structural racism.

Jammal Lemy, Activist

Jammal Lemy — Creative Director, March for Our Lives

Jammal Lemy is a graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, class of 2016. He is a filmmaker and designer, but above all, he’s an activist and the creative director of March For Our Lives – one of the largest youth protest movements in history. He designed the QR Code shirt that MFOL used to engage hundreds of thousands of eligible voters.

Sara Minkara, CEO

Sara Minkara — CEO, Empowerment Through Integration

Sara Minkara is the founder and CEO of Empowerment Through Integration (ETI), a nonprofit committed to developing a more inclusive society by empowering youth with disabilities through direct-service programming, and transforming cultural stigma against disabilities. Ahsen Utku (right) is a content writer at ETI.

Tonjé Bakang, Film

Tonje Bakang — Producer and Founder, Afrostream

Tonjé Bakang is the Founder of Afrostream, the “Netflix for African, African-American and Caribbean content." Tonjé is also a Director at The Family – a startup incubator in Europe – and a mentor at the Y Combinator Startup School. After being head of entrepreneurship at the African Leadership University, Tonjé became the Chief Brand Officer for the Anzisha Prize, working to proliferate entrepreneurship and jobs in Africa.

Dr. M. Sanjayan, CEO

Dr. M. Sanjayan — CEO, Conservation International

  1. Sanjayan is a conservation scientist, writer, and television news contributor. He is the chief executive officer of Conservation International, a nonprofit environmental organization that is helping to build a healthier, more prosperous, and more productive planet for all.

Faith XLVII x Lyall Sprong, Artists

Faith XLVII and Lyall Sprong — Artists

Faith XLVII is an internationally-acclaimed visual artist from South Africa who is currently based in Los Angeles. Lyall Sprong is a multi-disciplinary designer and artist whose work spans a plethora of mediums.

Ghetto Gastro, Chefs

Ghetto Gastro — Culinary Collective

Ghetto Gastro is a culinary collective and cultural movement that operates at the intersection of food, design and community empowerment through transformative experiences, narrative-driven content, and other tactical techniques.

Manari, Healer

Manari Ushigua — Sapara Nation

Manari is from the Sápara Nation in the Ecuadorian Amazon, of which less than 500 tribe members remain. He is a traditional healer and leader — the akameno (authority) — of his nationality. The Sápara Nation of Ecuador is recognized by UNESCO as an “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity” because their language and culture are in danger of disappearing.

Aja Monet, Activist and Poet

Poet Aja Monet

Aja Monet is an internationally-recognized poet of Cuban-Jamaican descent, and the youngest person ever to win the legendary Nuyorican Poet’s Café Grand Slam title. Her craft is best characterized by emotional wisdom, skill, and activism, reflected in her powerful voice and spellbinding delivery on stage.

Leon Ford, Candidate

Leon Ford — Author and Activist

Leon Ford is a published author, renowned activist, and motivational speaker. As a survivor of police brutality, Leon uses his story as a platform to positively impact society. In 2018, he announced his candidacy for Pittsburgh City Council District 9.

via Gage Skidmore / Flickr and nrkbeta / flickr

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