Hi, I’m Kayla.
I have 24 years experience in auditing adult conversations.
I grew up as the only child in a household of three, sharing space with folks who talked mostly about the weather and work, and what they would do with their weekend if either or both panned out. These things were all exceedingly interesting to me. It appeared that with enough anger directed at their boss or God, adults could protect themselves from feeling disempowered by a total lack of control over their free time. One other factor acting against my parents’ free time was me, with different interests and needs that weren’t always accommodated for, because they weren’t always urgent. I played third wheel on more fishing trips than my memory can catch and release. It took me a little longer than the other children I knew to develop a secure identity separate from my father’s. I genuinely trusted in his intuition and all-discerning eye for what is valuable, i.e. worth spending time and money on. When he cast shade at me for taking selfies, playing Neopets, reading Laura Ingalls Wilder, or generally spending too much time in my room, I felt ashamed. And childish. Being a child was not at all appealing to me. This complex took root in my emerging artist identity, too. I was reluctant to call my first poems poetry, being on base subjects like Nature and Love.
In my teen years, I filled a half-dozen journals but scrapped as many, convinced that this phase of girlhood would pass, leaving me embarrassed on the other side (once I better understood politics and had demystified the art of kissing) Now, an adult by law and society (most of the time), I still get stopped up when a sunflower enters my field of vision. That’s not to say I have allergies, rather, a nose for color (especially yellow, which either smells like fever, the painted lines between opposing sides of a highway, or both). When I see something that resonates with me across multiple senses, my creativity sets in motion. What I mean by creativity is the urge to package what I perceive as a unique feeling or event, to save it, to share it, to relive it by proxy. The product beneath the packaging might be a poem, a drawing, or an on-street mural. I say “perceive as unique” because I/we too often forget that opportunities to set a precedent for humanity are, at this point, few and far between. I am not an artist obsessed with producing original art. I write black-out poetry and trace illustrations from botanical dictionaries. I put quotation marks around phrases I am unsure of and paste/search in Google, hoping someone before me put those words in that exact order. I make art that reflects my culture and environment, and my experiences navigating them, because I need to be reminded (as much as anyone else) of where I started and where I’ve ended up, and how the two will always be a part of me. I am leaving artifacts for my future self to fondle and praise, for when she is disassociated from the hands or mind that bent them. Somewhere along this selfish yet endearingly human pursuit, I realized that (not being original myself) my art can serve the same function for others. It can be a grounding force that inspires someone to seek community in the people around them, and someone else to choose art-making for a self-care practice. I have 5(ish) years experience working on public service projects focused on community and economic development. When I entered nonprofits where artsy people were underrepresented, I knew better than try to assimilate at work as I had at home. Leading with my artist identity positions me as a conduit to the arts for people who come to my organization because they need employment, food or housing assistance, and leave with enough peace of mind to pursue neglected passions. Developing people first, by encouraging them to invest in themselves in this moment, is the key to developing a society and economy that outlasts it.