meet kiyanna arielle law, aka artsofarielle, a therapeutic artist with a heart of gold. based on lived experience, kiyanna created and runs a theraputic art program for children, teaching kids how to cope and express their emotions visually. in addition to her creative profession, kiyanna also draws and paints vibrantly provoking pieces that show us the beauty of looking inward.
tell me about yourself! how did you start making art?
my name is kiyanna and i’m in westville, new jersey. my intro to art came through my dad, he used to be a muralist. growing up i was a very quiet kid and would get bullied a lot. and although my mom tried to talk to me she couldn't get through at the time. so one day she gave me an art notebook and i unconsciously noticed i was drawing and painting out my feelings. whatever i was going through at school, i was painting or drawing it in my notebook.
is that something that inspired you to do what you're doing today?
yeah. i have a therapeutic art program for kids. i don't have my art therapy license yet so i don’t do the clinical side, but i do non-clinical work and i bring a counselor or a psychologist along with me. what i work on is leading kids into painting their emotions and teaching them how to communicate and express themselves through art.
nowadays there's a lot of violence that can be traced back to kids not knowing how to express themselves in a healthy way. they only know how to express themselves through anger, and i want to show them that there's a better way to go about that.
did anything else inspire you to start this — your lived experience of course, but what sparked you coming up with this as a profession?
i used to work at a daycare and while there i could see some of the kids there were going through certain things at home. at times they got emotional at school but didn't want to talk to anybody about it, except eventually me. and that really meant something because they wouldn't talk to anybody else, but i was able to sit down and have real conversations with these kids and they would go deep and explain what was going on. it is really gratifying to help kids grow, and that in conjunction with my experience and interest in painting got me here. i love to paint and i also really want to help people, and this is a conduit to both.
do you have a specific medium that you introduce to kids first?
i start off with drawing and then painting and i provide each child with a notebook that they can take home. i encourage them to use it outside of school too especially if they’re feeling any kind of way. in the future i want to have my own place to run programs and not travel to schools. and when i do get there, i’d like to integrate a yoga and painting type of therapy too.
i've noticed you draw a lot of minds or brains blooming? can you explain your inspiration there and how it ties into what you do every day?
well, i would say right now i feel like i'm on a mindfulness journey. i'm learning more things about myself every day and i've taken up meditation and yoga. and it's coming out in my art. i’ve been looking to express the beauty of what's inside of your mind. so i want to express that and paint how that feels or how i'm feeling in the process of going through this journey.
aside from your work, are you a part of any art communities?
outside of working with children, i just started working for the alzheimer's association because a lot of my family has alzheimer's and i really wanted to connect with people there. it’s known that art really helps with alzheimer's and memory and i just want to be helpful to as many different groups of people as possible.
what inspires you?
i feel like my childhood and tapping into what kids see in their mind in general inspires my art. recently, a lot of my paintings are very bright and vibrant because i view childhood as a light and more playful world.
is there anything in particular you hope people feel through your art?
i do hope that people feel inspired by the color and vibrancy of it all. regarding some recent paintings, i hope people can see there’s so much in your mind and it can be a really colorful and beautiful place.
what does being a creator mean to you?
being a creator means having the freedom to put whatever i want on paper or a canvas to express myself. i feel like sometimes a lot of people may not understand me or misunderstand me, so painting is a good way to help people see what i see.
how did you feel about using primitives for the first time?
it was interesting and intriguing! i particularly like that you can collect other people's art, i found that really cool.
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