We are very excited to be partnering up with Soul Series on our blog with a bi-weekly series that is aimed to increase awareness of DMV’s prospering and creative community through engaging interviews and podcasts. Soul Series is not only an entertainment platform but serves as a resource for DMC/DC artists and the surrounding community to connect and learn. At Steadfast Supply, our mission is to share and support the stories of creatives, makers, and entrepreneurs from across the globe through our retail and events space. We are very proud to support Soul Series' mission through our online platform.
Kyle Yearwood is a Baltimore- based artist and can be referred to as the “Architect of Realities,” due to his creations involving photography, video, design and animation. Using a refreshing and much-needed viewpoint, Kyle Yearwood creates both short-moving visuals and still photographs addressing topics of black magic (the power behind black people), imagination and mysticism to his subjects. In every “reality” created, messages of healing and hope can be found within the imagery Kyle chooses to display.
BreaSoul: Were you born and raised in Baltimore, MD? If so, what part of Baltimore?
Kyle: I was born and raised in East Baltimore, MD. After graduating from City College High School, I attended Morgan State University on full scholarship as a Calvin & Tina Tyler Scholar.
BreaSoul: Are there any connections between your upbringing and the themes or messages behind your art?
Kyle: Growing up in Baltimore, what I saw in the city was a lack of: role models, creative arts outlets, and access to the true knowledge of who we are. So, within my own youth experience in Baltimore, I fell into the trap of glorifying things and people that didn’t serve my highest purpose. Now as an adult, I see that what Baltimore really needs is healing, empowerment, and imagination. So the artwork I create is dedicated to filling that void. I express my own healing journey in order to help others heal. Putting myself in more supernatural, magical, and empowering realms through my self-portraits not only increases my self-confidence, but it also empowers those black girls and boys, especially in Baltimore, who don’t usually see stuff like that. I aim to create realities that I want to see in order to encourage people not to settle with the reality they’ve been given.
BreaSoul: You have always been drawn to magic.. What about it made you truly connect to it as a kid? What made you incorporate it into your art?
Kyle: Growing up, I was an avid reader. I loved Harry Potter. In fact, my mom bought me every Harry Potter book and took me to all the movies. That was so aligning for me because I always felt I had magic powers but didn’t know what they were or how to use them. Now as an adult, I realize my power comes from my melanin. My power comes from my ability to visualize. My power comes from my ability to channel whatever wisdom I need to help others. So in my artwork, I try stay true to that knowing, that I am magical.
BreaSoul: How did you find the right art form to fit your artistic style?
Kyle: I’m a visual person. My ideas come to me as visions. When I listen to music, I see new realities. When I have a realization or come across a powerful quote, I somehow automatically see how I can express that realization visually. So it only made sense for me to fall into the Visual Arts. Through my training at Morgan State University, I learned how to transform those visions into screenplays, photographs, videos, and animations. So my surrealistic style is just a result of me knowing how to use my imagination and also knowing how to merge my skills in these different disciplines.
BreaSoul: Where were you when you made the decision to transform the H&M advertisement of the young black boy in a hoodie? What was your mindset?
Kyle: When I saw the spark of controversy H&M created with their “coolest monkey in the jungle” advertisement, my immediate reaction was: “how can I turn this from something negative into positive?” The reason why so many people were unhappy with the advertisement is because now more than ever we need more empowering images of melanated people. We need to see ourselves like the royalty, creative, and magical beings we are. That was my inspiration behind the artwork. I didn’t create it out of anger, I created it as an alternative!
BreaSoul: Since the H&M ad, what has been some of the feedback you receive directly from your version of the ad and about your artwork?
Kyle: Since my H&M artwork went viral, I feel like people discovered all the artwork I’ve created and realized that everything I do is from the heart and is truly for us. My instagram is an abundance of healing and empowerment. So it feels to good to know that the H&M artwork was just a gateway to all the realities I create and people really are thankful for it.