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Breaking Down My Gallery Wall

The first thing you see when you enter my apartment is a giant wall mostly covered in colorful artwork. When I moved in, I knew the fastest way to make this place feel like home is by combining the two gallery walls I had from my previous apartment (especially since I no longer have an office).

Though most of the items are the same from my previous apartment, I realized I’ve never provided detail about each of the pieces that make up my collection. My gallery wall introduces who I am without me having to open my mouth, and this is how it looks:

This is my incredibly large gallery wall. I had to zoom in the image a bit to hide a gift I’m giving someone that I accidentally left on my couch.

As you can see, the sun primarily hits the right side of the wall. I’m surrounded by trees, and with there being one window in my apartment, the sun hits the far right corner of my living room the most, which is why all my plants are stationed there.

To further showcase my wall, I had to split it up into three parts:

1. My Tennessee license plate. Though I don’t like that state at all, it’s still the place where I was born and raised and where the people who mean the absolute most to me reside.
2. A hat. The only hat that fits my head and cures any insecurities I feel about the shape of my head.
3. “Your anxiety is lying to you. You are loved. Everything is ok.” A necessary reminder for an incredibly anxious girl like me.
4. My name. My friend Kristen surprised me with flowers when I visited her in March, and she wrote my name beautifully on the envelope (she gave me a sweet card with the flowers).
5. “Make sure you’re not breaking your own heart by having expectations for people who can’t live up to them.” After the atrocity 2022 was, I live by these words. Zero expectations for all of 2023.
6. Kobe and Gigi. I looked up to Kobe for his work off the court, and I knew I needed this as soon as I saw it. Plus, it was made by an artist in Nashville, and I bought it at the first night of the Nashville Black Farmer’s Market.
7. Me & Bananas. This is from my 2021 trip to New York when we went to the Museum of Ice Cream. It’s, by far, one of my favorite trips we’ve taken.
8. Green crop top & fro. My cousin painted a smaller version of this, and as soon as I saw it, it reminded me of myself so I asked her to make a bigger one for my wall.
9. Doug the Pug calendar. Doug the Pug is from Nashville, which again is where I’m from. Plus, I’ve always wanted a pug, even before I found Doug. However, I’m allergic to dogs, so these calendars are as close as I’m going to get.
10. The New York skyline. My sister used my two favorite colors to paint a version of the New York City skyline since New York is my favorite place to go for inspiration.

11. A shelf. This shelf is the first thing that was given to me when I started my job as an interior design assistant. I guess you could say it was the first piece of new furniture in my apartment (lol).
12. Words of love. A letter and 2 cards from three of my very close friends—three wonderful women who have my back no matter what.
13. My bestie boo & me. We once joked and said this was the best picture of us; it’s a picture of our shoes we took at a local thrift store in Tennessee, and something about it consistently satisfies my soul.
14. Part 1 of Alternate Art. The aforementioned Shoe Friend and I did the TikTok trending of painting and switching canvases after a certain period of time to expand on the other’s artwork.
15. Letter board. I change this at the start of the month to set the overall mood for the month, and this month is all about hustling and moving up in life (especially my career).
16. Golden Girls stats. There’s a really cool antique store in east Tennessee (the same one I talked about projectile upchucking in), and this was the first piece I bought when I went the first time. My first time going was in college, and since watching The Golden Girls literally got me through the all-nighters in college, it made sense to get it. I look at it and remember the struggle.
17. Dried flowers. Another friend surprised me with a box of dried flowers and a lovely note for my birthday. My entire day was made, and every time she calls me by the nickname saved for the special people in my life, my heart smiles. I look at it, think of her, and smile.
18. 1/3 of snowflakes. Flower Friend also surprised me with a Christmas card this past year (which is on the wall), and it brought me to tears. It came at the right time. With the card, there were handcut snowflakes, which are dispersed on the wall.
19. Anxiety penguin. This got me through the weirdness of 2022, when my anxiety was palpable, to the point where it felt like I could taste it.
20. “Just Breath.” Someone from my high school friend group drew this when we were in high school, and I still have it. Though high school sucks, it’s a pivotal point in growing up, and looking at this reminds me of that era; I had to suffer to be who I am today.
21. “Jamilah” bookmark. Shoe Friend gave this to me with a birthday gift years ago, and since the string fell out, it is now wall decor. I don’t have the heart to throw it away.
22. Mean mug. An old timey photo from when I was an actual child. I used to look at this picture and break out in hysterical laughter. We were told to look mean, and my sister completely ignored the photographer and smiled. It’s such a great memory from a great moment in life; it brings a smile to my face consistently. Plus, it’s proof I have an RBF.
23. Black power puff girl. She gets the most compliments. My cousin painted this a long time and didn’t like it, so I grabbed it immediately. She created representation for a show that doesn’t have any, which speaks volumes. Plus, it’s a good painting.
24. Cartoon Jamilah. A drawing by favorite Etsy artist, Maria. I’ve raved about her on the podcast. She did the artwork for the logo and cover, and I love supporting her in whatever way I can, whenever I can.
25. 1/2 of African silouhettes. I’ve been wanting a set like this for so long, and when I finally found it, a customer was buying it at Tuesday Morning. We talked about it while I rang up her order, and then two days later when I arrived for my shift, she flagged me down to give me the set she bought. I was trying to give her the cash for them, but she wouldn’t take it; she wanted to be a blessing, which I appreciate.
26. Pepsi Cola. There was one day when my sister hung out with me and Shoe Friend at a local flea market in Nashville, TN. I bought this while we were there, and it’s a day I think of whenever I look at it.

27. Ivy… League. My hanging Ivy plant. Hoping she gets to be big.
28. More hanging plants. My sister combined my love of plants and the color yellow and painted this artwork for me. Honestly, I can’t remember if it was a birthday or Christmas gift, but it still means a lot to me.
29. Reece’s bag. This handbag belonged to my great-grandmother, and she gave it to me before she passed away. If there’s anything that holds the most sentiment on this wall, it’s definitely this handbag. If I can avoid using it, I will; I do not want to mess it up.
30. Jamilah in makeup. I took a very random picture of myself sitting at a vanity in Destin, FL. My cousin did my makeup, and I really like it. Plus, I enjoyed having a yellow phone in a yellow case; it’s just 120% Jamilah in one image.
31. 1/2 of African silouhettes. This is the other one.
32. Delta plane ticket. One of the many plane tickets I received when I was trying to get home from my solo birthday trip to California. I look at it and immediately think about spending thirty hours in an airport.
33. Morphed mirror. It didn’t feel like a proper living room without a mirror on the wall, and I thought it would look perfect on the gallery wall. I bought this mirror when I went to my first thrift store in North Carolina. It was five dollars and is hilariously, incredibly morphed.
34. African roots. Another thrift store find in Tennessee. Whoever painted it did a fantastic job of turning the hair into the shape of Africa.
35. Another Black woman. More Black representation painted by my cousin. She didn’t like it, and since it had two of my favorite things—a Black woman and yellow—I snatched it up.
36. Fancy artwork. This artwork was given to the design studio I was an assistant at, and since no one wanted it, I took it. Plus, it’s a reminder of all the kind people we received our products from.
37. Service Excellence Award. I don’t remember the name of it, but this is from my stint at Lowe’s; I received it for doing a good job at straightening up bug spray…
38. Part 2 of Alternate Art. Still don’t know about the whole bandaid situation.
39. 3D Emotions. The latest addition to my gallery wall. My sister created it and didn’t want it, so I took it. I thought it would add more contrast to the wall, and it makes me happy when my sister gets in her creative moods.

From my gallery wall, I guess you could gather how much I love my family, friends, representation, and the color yellow.

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