We had the good fortune of connecting with Kayla Salisbury and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Kayla, can you talk to us a bit about the social impact of your business?
I created Coloured Art Studio based on the experiences that I had when I was a child living in South Central LA And my experience being a teacher and assessing what my students needed, as an adult. When I was younger, there were no art programs or are classes available in the community and in our schools. Even with high school and unfortunately even when I decided to go to an accredited Art College , there was the lack of black and brown representation in the lessons, Art history classes, all the way to the models in which our primary drawing and painting foundational lessons were focused on. Being a black woman, I didnt learn how to paint a Black person who looked like me, until I graduated and studied a realist Oil painting friend.
When I became a teacher in 2013, I saw that majority of my students had no experience in Art, didn’t see the value and/or didn’t know any contemporary artists who looked like us, in the Art world. Early pandemic, years later I saw that my students at home were losing motivation and didn’t have access to and/or couldn’t afford materials. I created Coloured Art Studio to simply bring access to fun and engaging black and brown Artist centered lessons and the materials to do those lessons, to the families that needed them. My idea was that we would get through the pandemic together but I started to imagine that with using technology like Zoom, I can meet new students and help families in multiple communities, so the plan got bigger. My nonprofit was pretty new but I met amazing students from San Diego to New York, to Oregon and I wanted to do more – I just needed to sell this idea to my neighbors.
So now 2 years later, Coloured Art Studio has grown and is looking to expand financially and physically with hopefully a new permanent space by January. The idea is that our space can be an Arts Education resource for local schools and families with classes, training for teachers and parents on how to use the Arts in their specific spaces and a creative space for current local and aspiring artists. This is a space that will hold talks, present workshops and host family and community events. We want to educate our area on the statistically proven idea that Art not only improves a child’s Socio-Emotional learning and communication, but also their identity and self-esteem, critical thinking skills and peer relations. Art also has the ability to improve performance in all of their core classes, across the board, gives kids a different sense of purpose. It’s been proven that kids in the Arts tend to have a better quality of life and in the end, to be more successful in their educational journey.
Right now, we are still growing and looking to expand our donors, sponsors, collaborative partners, school districts and families but we have serviced a handful of amazing families and a few amazing schools. We are looking forward to when we can open up and build our official Art haven. We are based in an area where relationships between neighbors, across races and cultures, from the homeless-below the poverty line- being one check away from being poor are frailed. The police and its citizens, Housing Authority and council members, big companies and environmentalist all are tense, the community has a list of struggles and to dos, but we are hopeful. The area we want to service and expand in is Watts, my community born and raised, and there’s a lot of work to do with the healing and relationship building that needs to be done here but luckily Art is a very powerful tool and vessel to get that done – by starting with our kids.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My Art is a marriage of traditional portraiture and a fusion of more graphic illustration, street and folk art, like work created by William Johnson and Leon Collins, Im very interested in the narrative behind my figures. Im intrigued by the power of storytelling of not just my own story but as my subjects share their life experiences and the influences and impressions left by the community, relationships, our peers and society – I try to tell communicate with this dance back and forth between memory and time and the figure casually posed in the present. The characters become a supporting landscape – highlighting the main figure with this difference of style and size – pushing them to the forefront , yet, they still possess a style and personality of their own, anxious to speak too. I merge here my two voices, to touch on subjects like societal pressures, identity, relationships, our hurts, struggles and joy but most importantly – our beauty. Translated a number of ways, the work has the power to capture and keep your attention, with a special emphasis on building a connection so you’d sit and digest on your own terms.

Im excited because I haven’t seen to many pieces like my own and that’s invigorating because its as if im going upstream against the current. My community and people are vital to the pieces that I create and its because I feel we deserve to be highlighted and uplifted in visual conversations.

It absolutely wasn’t easy to get to this space, im honestly still working it out. To be vulnerable, I had a hard time understanding where do my characters and figure belong in the Art world, hell if I even belonged here. But an Art mentor of mine said, Who the hell cares ? We get so wrapped up in trying to find the empty space at the table to bring up and squeeze in our chair – she suggested for me to not have that be the center of my thought and creativity- trying to fit in somewhere. So right now, Im exploring what that looks like. Sharing Black and Brown Stories, my way, that speaks to Art aficionados and people who are inexperienced and dont know how to look at or speak of art – I want my work to be multilingual and build connections with all of my people. I aim to speak on identity, our relationships, communities and the outer world – things that we all connect to and struggles that we all resonate with.

I want you to know how much thought goes into my work, to make it very personal and casual, with beautiful everyday people. I aim to create something that Art history books need.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Im sure they’d have friends and family to see, so lets say its a beautiful Sunday. We’d go to the Watts Coffee House for breakfast, CAAM to see some Art and then drive down to Leimert Park to eat a Vegan Soul bowl at Hot and Cool Cafe and listen to the drum circle outside in the streets. Wed sit and laugh, connect with our brothers and sisters in the streets – pour love into them, as they in return love on us,, buying black and supporting the small vendors aligned Degnan blvd. This is the richest epicenter of culture in Los Angeles and If I had the free time, Id be there everyday if I could – a completely Black Owned day.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Honestly, my late grandpa. Luckily I made sure to give him his flowers while he was alive, but I do wish I could hear his response and get his love now, when he takes a look at all that I’ve achieved. He was my number one fan while I was still trying to figure out what Art even was. Every doodle, scrap of note paper, coloring book page and picture of SpongeBob I drew – he made me feel like it was the Sistine Chapel and marveled at its beauty. I wish I could hear his voice now because I just know – he’d be so proud.

Website: kaylasalisburyart.com

Instagram: @kisalisbury and @colouredartstudio

Twitter: @colouredartstu

Other: My Arts Education Nonprofit – colouredartstudio.weebly.com Donation page – https://colouredartstudio.givingfuel.com/coloured-art-studio-arts-education-nonprofit

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