We had the good fortune of connecting with Yaa Kwayana and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Yaa, any advice for those thinking about whether to keep going or to give up?
There’s always another idea to bring to life, another life to impact and represent, another opportunity to surpass the limits that we put on ourselves; another experience/thought that needs to be expressed. Growth is constant, and I think it’s something to look forward to even with the challenges that come along.
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.
I have a very solution-based mind that loves to categorize my troubles and triumphs into chapters. It helps me make sense of what is happening in my life, which usually (not really) brings me peace. Because of this, a lot of my work will showcase the phases that I underwent to get to wherever I am presently. I sometimes use symbolism (through color, props, and script) to help me explore the stages, or maybe fashion and movement. It varies, but there is always an intentional element.
It’s easier for me to utilize some of those tools when I paint because existence is literally at my fingertips but, I’m learning how to integrate multiple mediums to assist me with storytelling through photography, which has been challenging but fun! You all will see a lot more of this in my work to come.
All-in-all I’m still exploring my voice, and I think that shows through my creations thus far. They’re very all over the place, yet cohesive, with a central theme of self discovery through spirituality, love, art, fear, faith, sadness and literally every emotion you can think of.
My artwork can be uncomfortable yet liberating, unpacking core identity issues that I think the masses can relate to.
It hasn’t necessarily been an “easy” journey discovering how to express myself, but it has been beautiful, and I’m seriously grateful for the patience and grace that I’m learning to grant myself along the way. I’m actively making an effort to experience life as it comes to me. Allowing my mind and heart to experience what feels right, even if it’s not lasting.
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?
I really love nature and relaxing, so I don’t know if I’d be the friend making plans, but I’ll try.
In no specific order:
Sweet Water Creek nature trails for our nature piece
Shamba ATL for our healing tools and fresh produce
Poopoolala for massages (if you know, you know)
An art exhibition, maybe the high museum
Ru Sans for sushi
Rum Punch Brunch to get drunk and dance
Little 5 points for the vibes & of course the parks
Piedmont park for bike riding
and Unlmtd Studios for a photoshoot.
If there’s a local social function happening, we can slide through there too.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
So many people have supported me at different phases of my journey, so it’s sort of hard to decide who deserves “extra” credit. If I had to choose though, I’d shout out my younger sister, Ina, and my Aunty Iyabo for fueling my passions and seeing things in me before I saw it within myself. My aunt (whose a filmmaker) gifted me my first camera in 2017, a little bit after my Grandmother passed away, and that sparked something bigger than me. Ina was my muse and teacher in many ways. Whether it was a dance video or a photoshoot, she always had ideas & I was always there to execute them, ready and willing to contribute my two cents along the way. She helped to strengthen my creative muscle.
Also, huge s/o to my old roomie, Ashanti, for encouraging me to share my photography! That conversation in the living room will forever live with me.