Najj Al-Mahi’s storytelling is driven by the relationship between visual art and written narrative. They focus on scenes about young women finding their inner power and life-changing events that transform them into an entirely new being, finding promise in the fabulation of science fiction and the non-human. For their senior work at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Art, she is experimenting with found objects, fabrics, paper, and other materials to shift how she conveys emotion and thematic importance. Further exploring the fantasy genre, including material exploration and character transformation help to reinforce the fantastical research using tropes of magic and super-powered humanoid beings.
Text for “Fragmented Mythology: Afera”
Hundreds of years before the Catastrophe, living gods— the Six Guardians— ruled this world. Tasked by She the Creator to be the containers of powerful magic, their job was to prevent the humans from abusing it and destroying themselves once more. They remained in their places, leaders of their respective nations, and isolated from one another. After all, to Her, the Guardians were no more than tools.
Yet these “tools” had thoughts, feelings, emotions… humanity.
With only trial, error, and exploration as their teachers, the Guardians couldn’t help but be ruled by their curiosities and preoccupations.
Enter, Aferadima wa Altabiea.
Celebrated as a god of abundance, health, and bountiful harvests, Afera was deeply loved and venerated by her people. Despite her station, there was no true hierarchy separating them. They were family.
As the immortal protector and provider, she was a constant in their lives.
However, the only constant the humans provided was their inevitable deaths.
The toll surpassed the tens, hundreds, thousands… But an immortal existence surely meant an immortal memory, no?
The despair set in when the forgetting began.
Still, for her people she clung to her joyful facade. A dim smile, a heavy heart.
Until one day, a strange visitor offered an even stranger proposal. A dangerous gamble.
But for hope, Afera would risk it all.
The end of an Era had begun.
This project was supported by a Microgrant from the Frank-Ratchye Further Fund #2023-014. Additional images can be found here.