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“We must remain ready to ask, open-minded enough to be led, and willing to believe despite our bouts of disbelief. Creativity is an act of faith, and we must be faithful to that faith, willing to share it to help others, and to be helped in return.”

― Julia Cameron

Samantha Jo is an artist, filmmaker, and healer born and raised in Chicago. She has always been passionate about art, inspiring her to create visual projects under the name ‘Samantha Jo.’ Her artwork is influenced by nature, recycled materials, and her Black & African culture. Samantha Jo graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a degree in Business but further explored her creative abilities at the University of Art London.


Samantha's love for healing led her to found The Aura House, now called The Oriyam, a non-profit that provides mental health resources for Black & Brown women of all ages based in Chicago. 

The Oriyam's mission is to embrace holistic healing that integrates both mental health skills and ancient practices and embrace traditional spirituality and practices (such as meditation), which are often overlooked by Western medicine. From educational webinars and workshops, The Aura House encourages women to take the time for themselves and commit to their healing practices. This is a space that honors cultural heritage and provides support through ancient wisdom.  The Aura House serves all ages of women of color, including -cis, trans, and non-binary people who are comfortable in a space that centers on women's experiences.


Most recently, she has opened Balm Yard, a Botanica & Apothecary. She reconnected with her father's family in the south and began to learn about her Geechee roots. Through this process, she met many family members who passed down recipes, spiritual practices, and overall self-care knowledge into Balm Yard, which is a safe space for anyone from any background to receive healing guidance.  Through her work, Samantha Jo is committed to removing the stigma around seeking help for mental & spiritual health within marginalized communities.


At Balm Yard, Samantha Jo stocks a range of medicinal herbs, spiritual amulets, and other products used for remedies. She believes in the power of nature and its ability to bring healing that is both subtle and powerful. From oils to attract luck, candles to light up an altar, or incense to induce peace, Balm Yard has something for everyone's individual needs. In addition to being able to purchase pre-made packages and fresh herbs from the shop, Samantha Jo offers one-on-one consultations to identify a person's unique path toward healing, as well as mentorship by appointment.

As an advocate for Black & Brown creatives, she has hosted workshops at places like Soho House, paneled for All Black Creatives at Instagram Chicago, and was invited to a Reparations Summit in Accra, Ghana, by the MacArthur Foundation & ATJLF in 2022.

Samantha looks forward to continuing the mission of The Aura House & Balm Yard with her team of healers. She continues to bring practices, indigenous ways of healing, and knowledge of spiritual wellness to the forefront.


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