Get Familiar: Sheila Pinas, Meredith Joeroeja, Thirza King & Zöe Bab

Get Familiar: Sheila Pinas, Meredith Joeroeja, Thirza King & Zöe Bab

Get Familiar: Sheila Pinas, Meredith Joeroeja, Thirza King & Zöe Bab

Meredith, Sheila, Kapitein van Christiaankondre, Galibi Ricardo Pané, Zoe and Thirza

In the heart of South America, a unique journey unfolded as a group of pioneering women ventured to document Patta's latest Spring/Summer 2024 collection. We spoke to Sheila Pinas, Thirza King, and Zöe Bab to get familiar with what this trip was all about.

This expedition was more than just a fashion showcase; it was a deep exploration of identity, connection, and creativity. Sheila, Thirza, Meredith and Zöe brought their unique perspectives and experiences to Suriname, weaving together threads of inspiration from the country's landscapes, people, and stories.

Join us as we delve into their captivating journey, uncovering the inspirations behind Patta's latest photography and discovering the profound impact of reconnecting with heritage and community. Sheila, Thirza, and Zöe share their insights, challenges, and the transformative power of blending fashion with cultural heritage against the backdrop of Suriname's lush surroundings. In this  interview, we gain a glimpse into the profound intersection of identity, and the spirit of adventure, guided by the trailblazing women of Patta.


Can you share with us the inspiration behind the photo series you created in Suriname for Patta? What drew you to this particular project and location?

Our collective motivation is to authentically represent Suriname's culture and beauty through the lens of creatives who have lived or are currently based there. We wanted to showcase the positive aspects of Surinamese culture and counter negative stereotypes. Patta, being a Dutch Surinamese brand, was the ideal partner to bring this vision to life, merging fashion with our country's rich heritage and aesthetics.

Suriname is known for its rich cultural diversity. How did you navigate and incorporate this diversity into your photo series?

Our photo series aims to authentically capture the diverse and vibrant cultures of Suriname, each set representing the essence of a different cultural group within our country. With team members deeply rooted in Surinamese heritage, we sought to reconnect with our backgrounds and showcase the beauty of Hindi, Ingi, Javanese, Creole, and other cultures that makeup Suriname. Through this lens, we highlight familiar daily life situations and raise awareness of current issues while celebrating the unique pop culture of these population groups. This project is a testament to our pride in Suriname's rich cultural tapestry and our collective effort to share its beauty with the world.


Could you walk us through a memorable moment or adventure you experienced while shooting in Suriname?

One of the most profound experiences during our project was working closely with the Ingi indigenous people of Galibi, Suriname. This journey was deeply spiritual and enlightening for us. We engaged with the natural customs and leadership of the Ingi community, starting with a meaningful conversation with the Kapitein. He shared insights into their way of life and ultimately blessed our project, allowing us to meet all the Basha’s of Galibi who also extended their blessings. These conversations were not only about Galibi but also involved collaborative research into the challenges faced by indigenous communities in Suriname, including their historical interactions with other cultures and Western influences. Our collaboration expanded to involve the entire island community, from young to old Galibi individuals. This experience left a lasting impact, evoking a profound sense of pride in our shared Surinamese identity and the stories we encountered along the way. Stay tuned for more as we continue to unfold this remarkable journey.

Collaboration often plays a crucial role in creative projects. Who did you work with on the island, and how did they contribute to the overall vision of your project?

Thirza and Sheila, having previously collaborated on a Suriname project, recognize the profound impact they can create and are dedicated to showcasing the authentic essence of their homeland. They aim to elevate Suriname's visibility and reveal its true cultural depth, drawing inspiration from the vibrant Caribbean culture with its rich colors, music, dances, and expressions of femininity. Zoe fondly recalls Donovan, the nephew of the Island's Kapitein, who played a pivotal role in their journey. Acting as a supportive elder brother figure, Donovan guided them through island life, sharing insights into its history and lifestyle. He exemplified the aspirations and pride of young indigenous individuals, emphasizing the importance of preserving cultural heritage amidst the trend of youth migrating to Paramaribo for better opportunities.

Every project comes with its own set of challenges. What were some of the challenges you faced during the shoot, and how did you overcome them?

We undertook this project independently, relying on our deep understanding of Surinamese culture to navigate and realize our vision. In contrast to the structured approach in the Netherlands, our experience in Suriname required a different kind of engagement, where personal connections and adaptability were crucial.

Working exclusively with Surinamese women( Sheila and Meredith based in Suriname) brought a profound spiritual connection to the project, fostering a unique level of understanding and collaboration. Despite challenges such as navigating authority dynamics and cultural differences like punctuality, we embraced the organic creative process that Suriname offered.

Thirza's familiarity with the shoot location facilitated smooth communication with locals, ensuring they grasped our vision effortlessly. However, our biggest hurdle came post-shoot, as we worked to convince the client of the project's significance as a representation by and for women. This endeavor highlighted the importance of women's voices and perspectives in the creative sphere, a concept we were committed to championing through our work.

Your photo series likely captures the essence of Surinamese life. Can you tell us about some of the people you documented and spent time with during your trip?

Zoe reflects on the pivotal role played by Sheila, Thirza, and Meredith—three black women central to this project. Together, they boldly shape new narratives and dedicate extensive time not only to discussing the project but also immersing themselves in the essence of their shared experiences, research, and feelings. Thirza recounts a profound experience spent with indigenous people, highlighting the deep spiritual connection felt during their visit to the village. Over three days, she observed and embraced the simplicity and beauty of their existence, resonating with their status as the original inhabitants of Suriname. Learning about their struggles and mistreatment by the world underscored the importance of amplifying their voices to advocate for their rights and recognition. This encounter deepened their resolve to use their platform to support and uplift indigenous communities.

Travelling and immersing oneself in a new culture often leads to personal growth and learning. What valuable lessons did you take away from your experience in Suriname?

Zoe, Shelia, Meredith and Thirza share a deep love and commitment to showcasing the richness of Suriname's culture. Zoe's passion for her country evokes strong emotions, driving her readiness to return and contribute positively to its image. Sheila sees endless opportunities to amplify Suriname's artistic voice, aiming to elevate its presence on the global stage. Thirza values the profound depth of Surinamese culture, emphasizing the importance of spending time with its people and listening to their stories to fully appreciate its richness and significance. Together, they are dedicated to celebrating and promoting the diverse cultural heritage of Suriname.

Suriname is a country that remains relatively undiscovered to many people around the world. What do you believe the rest of the world needs to learn or understand about Suriname?

Zoe, Shelia, Thirza and Meredith collectively emphasize the complex dynamics and challenges faced by Suriname, a country with deep historical roots and ongoing struggles stemming from colonization. Zoe highlights the persistent impact of Western ideologies on Surinamese society, urging a deeper understanding of the country's history and the preservation of its spiritual cultures.

Shelia's overarching ambition is to reveal Suriname's potential and beauty to the world, encouraging Surinamese individuals to return and contribute to their homeland's development. She challenges the status quo, advocating for investment in education and sharing knowledge to enrich Suriname's growth.

Thirza reflects on the duality of Suriname's identity—cherishing its authentic, untouched beauty while longing for progress and development in all aspects. Despite the country's rich cultural diversity, there's a profound sense of unity among its people, fostering a collective identity rooted in interconnectedness.

Together, Zoe, Shelia, Thirza and Meredith envision a Suriname that embraces its heritage, overcomes historical burdens, and flourishes through education, investment, and unity—a country poised to thrive and make its mark on the global stage.

How does your connection to Suriname influence your artistic vision and approach to this project?

Our collaboration on this project was driven by a deep connection and love for Suriname, reflecting our passion for our homeland through art. Zoe's involvement with Patta was a natural choice, given the shared Surinamese heritage between herself and her peers, making Patta the perfect fit to elegantly bring our vision to life.

The scenarios captured in our project resonate with the everyday experiences of Surinamese life, akin to a "For Us By Us" FUBU) initiative. We aimed for this project to resonate with Surinamese living in Suriname and abroad, fostering a strong connection between Suriname and Patta, a Dutch Surinamese fashion brand. This synergy was essential in conveying our collective vision and celebrating our cultural roots through this creative endeavor.

How do you hope your documents will impact viewers' perceptions of Suriname and its people?

Our collective hope for this project is to showcase the positive aspects of Suriname, highlighting its diverse cultures living harmoniously and its abundant, untapped natural beauty. Zoe envisions this project inspiring a renewed sense of pride in our own culture, encouraging empowerment among Surinamese people to embrace and celebrate their heritage.

Sheila shares a desire to cultivate a fresh sense of Surinamese pride, presenting our country authentically rather than through the lens of mainstream media. By portraying Suriname as we see it, we aim to inspire youth to explore their creativity and develop artistic skills, demonstrating the possibilities of making a living independently through creative pursuits. Together, our goal is to uplift and empower our community, fostering a deeper appreciation for Suriname's unique identity and potential.