Kaya Joan, Artist – T’karonto

Kaya Joan is a multi-disciplinary Afro Caribbean (Jamaican/Vincentian)-Indigenous (Kanien’kehá:ka) artist living in T’karonto (Dish with One Spoon treaty territory). Their work focuses on healing, transcending ancestral knowledge, and creating dreamscapes rooted in spiritualism from the lands of their ancestors (Turtle Island and the Caribbean). Afro and Indigenous futurity and pedagogy are also centred in their practice – working through buried truths to explore how creation can heal seven generations into the past and future. Kaya has been working in community arts for five years as a facilitator and artist. They are a core member of Weave and Mend, an Indigenous femme/non binary collective. They are in the process of completing a BFA through the Indigenous Visual Culture program at OCAD U. To view more of Kaya’s work, go to @kayajoan on Instagram or view their exhibition Part Three online at Xpace.

  1. Afro and Indigenous futurities 

In the times we are in, the disparity that surrounds us can be deafening, leaving little room for hope and joy. Afro and Indigenous futurisms create spaces of possibility, community, and kinship. They open portals to ancestral knowledge, alternative histories, and ways of being that allow black and brown folks to project into futures we want to see. Octavia Butler is a futurist prophet whose Parable series is interwoven with sobering and grounding prose such as, “All that you touch you Change. All that you Change Changes you. The only lasting truth is Change. God is Change.” This is a grounding mantra which I meditate on as often as possible. The sentiments, dreams, philosophies, and visions I encounter when engaging with works in the canon of Afro and Indigenous futurism breathe life back into my spirit and heal me deeply. To time travel and shapeshift, also peep albums When I Get Home by Solange, Yamantaka // Sonic Titan’s Dirt and Sun Ra’s Fate in a Pleasant Mood.

  1. Portals and glyphs

Portals and glyphs are fascinating to me, and ground my practice as of late. I view a lot of my work as a portal. Sometimes I am projecting into otherworlds, futures, histories, and dimensions, and sometimes things are coming through, like spirit beings, poems, and songs. Often it goes both ways. The glyphs I work with most intimately are tags and graffiti, and I am developing my own as well. Karyn Recollet’s essay “Steel Trees, Fish Skins and Futurity Cyphers” has been a piece of writing I keep returning to, as she speaks to how portals and glyphs function in the urbanscape. As often as I can, I become pleasantly lost (more so found) in these glyphs that hint at portal doors by wandering through alleyways in T’karonto.

  1. Dried plants

Recently I have taken to adorning my space with dried plants. I want to live as the alchemist I dream of being, creating a mock apothecary in my home. Some I know the names of, others I do not, although I hope to one day. They inspire a future where I can harvest and dry my own medicines, and surround myself with jars of mugwort and nettle, bows of cedar and pearly everlasting hanging from beams in my little cabin. My kin will come to me for medicine. Perhaps one day.

  1. Stillness

For the past six months, I have been developing and crafting my thesis body of work to complete my Bachelor of Arts in the Indigenous Visual Culture program at OCAD U. I am in my fifth year, about to graduate. It has been a long five years of rigorous work. I am forever grateful for the privilege to attend post-secondary school; however, academia and the institution can be exhausting. I often forget what it means to slow down. This is a symptom of capitalism and colonialism. But I do observe stillness when I remember. Moments of stillness come in meditating with the branches animated by evening winds in my backyard, or hearing a bird’s song as I walk with my headphones out. I cherish these moments and hold them close. They are my ancestors whispering through the land to be present and breathe.

  1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

This game is mad fun. It is an open-world RPG (role playing game), full of everything I love, like strange creatures, fairies, gemstones, caves, and dragons. It is beautifully designed with incredible variation in texture and terrain. I love to escape into a world of forests I can harvest from and rivers I can swim and fish in whilst wielding swords crafted from ancient beings, protected by potions. It’s a nice break from the urbanscape I navigate IRL.