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RE-claiming Kulture thru Kreativity with Khali

Every now and then in my travels, I come across a GEM. 

While strolling through the Craft Market, Carifesta XIV in Port of Spain Trinidad, I found myself in a spot that stood out from the rest of the trinkets and specialty items displayed on storefront tables. There, I saw premium ostrich leather bags layered with zebra fur patches, colors of Mahogany, Beige and Black firmly stretched and tied along the side of Messenger Satchels, Pouches, Purses, Chairs and even a fully framed piece of Artwork with the story of African capture and enslavement etched into the material hung on the back wall. It was powerful. And I felt honored to experience such quality pieces of work in a casual and intimate settings such as this.

I stood at a distance for a moment gazing at the sight and taking it in, recognizing that where I was, was Sacred and Godly. I approached a tall gentleman sitting calmly on a chair hovering over something he was reading and asked him about his work. He pointed to a description--his Artistic Proclamation which states the intent and purpose behind the work, not as an action but as a state of being and expression of his humanity.

"I am an artist. This is not something that I do, but - with all humility- it is who I am. While I am neither imbued with the power of Kreativity, nor the ability to create, I am a vessel through which the Spirit of Kreativity flows. Art means different things to different people but the same thing to different artists, which is simply an attempt to respond to the Mastery, the Misery, and the Mystery of life.  This work is bigger than I am; that I have come to know. The art is the vehicle and the work begins where the vehicle takes me."

Khali, is his name, shared with me that he was self taught. He'd studied architecture in school before coming to realize that his passion was deeply rooted in the Arts and so he learned this new trade. There are aspects of his studies that can be found in the art pieces, the infrastructure, layering, variation in use of texture and more... 


What I enjoyed most about Khali Keyi and his Gallery is the authenticity, the openness and experience of an African Journey that seemed resilient and timeless. Today, we see the audaciousness of how African culture is being mocked, copied, exploited and displaced for political and economic gain. For Black Americans the identity crisis that we faced each day is as a result of slavery and its descendant, systematic racism, poverty, propaganda, multi-media influences and poor education. Their exposure to the true African experience is diluted and/or limited to cheap merchandised African patterns and prints found in retail stores, that have nothing more than the price tag and return policy attached to it. 

"Each piece made under the insignia Keyi Ko Afrikan Arts has been crafted by my hands, without the use of machines" -Khali The thoughtful pieces of leather braided wrist wear or a pair of earrings by Keyi Ko Afrikan Arts shares a rich history and existence of our being as African descended people. They each hold a meaning and weight both in the process of creation symbolizing our need to heal and recover what was lost along the journey to new lands, such as our Essence or Spirituality, Traditions and our Name. 

Africans were forced to identify and attached themselves to Eurocentric ideals, to associate themselves with the ways of their Masters and to conform by adopting these ideologies as their own in order to survive and find freedom. However, as a result of that brokenness, terror and destruction have a responsibility to redeem ourselves from that curse and heal the Wounds that have been open for centuries. And so Keyi Ko Afrikan Arts does just that--creating art that celebrates who we are, honors the past as part of our future and redeems us through craftsmanship.


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