Miscellaneous October 11, 2018

Weave & Mend Artist Feature: Kaya

By Jonsaba Jabbi

Kaya Joan is a multi-disciplinary mixed Afro-Indigenous (Mohawk/ Cree/ Taino/ Arawak)-settler artist born and raised in T’karonto (Dish with One Spoon treaty territory). Her work focuses on healing, blood memory and exploring the intersections of her mixed identity. Kaya Joan’s practice extends into her communities and she has been working in art facilitation, organization and implementation since she began her career in the arts five years ago.

Creation is a necessary viaduct for Kaya to work through trauma. This trauma is her own, as well as her ancestors. She strongly believes it is her purpose to use art to heal. Her goal is to continue to challenge colonial/Eurocentric ways of being and knowing with art that makes space for voices that have been mis/underrepresented and silenced.

She is currently one of the lead artists of Weave and Mend, working with an amazing team of Indigenous femme and two spirit artists in preparation for the public launch on Sunday, October 21 from 11AM-2PM at Artscape Youngplace.

A photo of Kaya wearing a mask

Growing up disconnected from a lot of my family and culture, I see creation as a way to navigate these buried roots, and grow new ones.

Having a multimedia practice allows me to explore complicated themes using material that suits the subject best. Analogue and digital illustration serves as a 2D platform for me to create dreamscapes of my subconscious, as well as present characters who interact with different facets of my identity. I use video, sculpture and instillation to challenge western pedagogy by exploring Afro and Indigenous futurity and pedagogy.

A friend of mine told me about the Weave and Mend project and suggested I apply. I am so glad I did. This has been one of the most incredible community art projects I have been a part of. From the people, to the skills I have been able to learn and practice, to the flow of the project itself. Weave and Mend is a project that keeps evolving, and it is such an honour to be growing alongside the project and artists involved. They have become family.

The Piece “Growth” by Kaya

Through Weave and Mend I have gained so much. It’s been such a valuable experience working with a team to create an artistic vision for a site, and then execute it. I’ve learned how to let go of ideas, how to interact and transform natural materials that came from one place and integrate them into the site, wood burning…I am so grateful for the facilitators of the project as well, Sarah, Sue, Liz and Morgan. They have taught me so much about how to facilitate with immense care and in a good way, one which is considerate of all team members.

Art has transformed the way that I move through the world. Most of the time, my senses are observing and experiencing the world around me as art. Also, I have found the most beautiful talented people and communities through various avenues of art. I am a more open person because of my art. I am more curious and critical because of ‘art’. I am even critical of the word ‘art’ itself.

I want people to know how much hard work and time was put into this project. A lot of consultation and thought was woven into the creation of the site. Also we as a team love to hear feedback about what community thinks of the space!