For my first ever conversation with an artist, I was able and had the honor to speak with the talented and insightful Kayla R. Workman. Her art was showcased in the Marilyn Werby Gallery, and the show was called “Cross-cultural and Community-based Practices in Art.” She and seven other artists worked on the different projects shown in the gallery, which involved collaborations with three community organizations: Arts and Services for the Disabled, Acacia Adult Day Services, and NCADD-Woman to Woman. When first walking into the gallery, I noticed that bright colors filled and covered the room, and I was intrigued to see what each project was about.
Kayla worked with two other women to develop their projects shown in the gallery, and worked with the elderly associated with the Acacia Adult Day Services in a center in Garden Grove from February to August. One of the projects Kayla worked on is called “Stain Glass Notan.” Based on the Japanese tradition of Notan, which is a play on the placement of light and dark, the project was utilized with simply paint and glass, and was also used as a therapeutic experience for the elderly at the center. The different stain glasses give off a whimsical feeling, and made me want to make one myself. Another project Kayla and her companions developed is the “‘Memory’ Cyanotype Prints.” This project involved the senior citizens to bring photos of significant memories of their past, and to teach them to convert these moments into blue and white pictures with the cyanotype printing process. The photos ranged from having pictures of dogs to drawing on them, which left a sense of familiarity and intimacy within the blue and white colors. Lastly, my favorite project Kayla worked and specifically developed is called “Affirmation.” This project involved the seniors to write down an activity they enjoy or are proud to have accomplished with their hands. Pictures of their hands and messages lined the wall, with each message placed under its designated Polaroid. Each message was intimate and, like the cyanotype pictures, provided an lens into the personal lives of the participants.
Kayla, who is a fifth year at CSULB and working towards her degree in art education, said that her inspiration for the projects were based off of the experiences in her life. Specific experiences would include her great uncle and neighbor developing Alzheimer’s, and her experience working with kids, whose ages ranged from eight to fifteen, in Cambodia. Besides her inspirations, common themes can be found throughout the works showcased in the gallery, like art being a therapeutic activity and the remembrance of the past being important, especially in the works “‘Memory’ Cyanotype Prints” and “Affirmation.” Also, a sense of community exuded the projects, since they all involved people from the area who relied on these centers and organization mentioned for support.
Personally, I relate to Kayla’s art on a deeper level, considering that I have had family members and family friends who have suffered from Alzheimer’s. I’ve seen them lose their sense of identity, and eventually become different people than how they were before. From this experience, I hold a great importance to the past and to memories, and have been writing journal entries for every day of this year, since time waits for no one. With the compilation of memories, experiences, and accomplishments, the past makes up one’s identity. Kayla and her companions were able to give the senior citizens at the center, despite some having diseases like Alzheimer’s, their own identity through the art projects they completed.
For more information on Kayla, her works, and inquiries, visit her website: http://kaylaraecreates.weebly.com/