Meet Jaya Kang, The Co-Leader Of Brown Girls Climb

Please introduce yourself, what you do, why you do it, and what you want people to know about you.

I am a 24-year-old artist and art director originally from India, I graduated in 2020 from the California Institute of the Arts. I have been living in Los Angeles for the last five years. In addition to my personal practice in art and critical theory, I am also the co-founder of OUT OF POCKET PROJECTS, a content creation company that produces innovative and imaginative imagery for a variety of clients.

Along with my creative projects, I am co-leader for the Los Angeles chapter of Brown Girls Climb, which is a social enterprise that strives to facilitate mentorship, provide access, uplift leadership, and celebrate representation in the outdoors and climbing for people of the global majority. As an art director, it is my goal to bring to life dream-like visions and give them a physical form.

What qualities make you different and unique from everyone else in the industry?

As someone who moved to America from India, I recognize the great opportunities available here that are not present anywhere else in the world. This pushes me to go out and take them all. This has also pushed my creative vision to incredible limits. This perspective also has allowed me to learn from the many cultures I have been exposed to and bring them into my work and tell stories through my visuals.

Describe THAT moment when you realized you wanted to do what you do now. Who did you tell first? What has it been like since that moment?

I grew up in India and have moved around a lot since then. I lived in a rural town in Punjab for the first half of my childhood and then moved to New Delhi for the latter. That always gave me a lot of perspective on knowing that the world is way bigger and diverse than just your immediate surroundings. My family then moved to The Netherlands and I went away to do a foundation year in England. Stepping away from my country gave me the space to evaluate so many parts of my identity that were built around many colonial ideals.

I realized that after being raised in a country that was under British rule for over 150 years, we never learned to take pride in ourselves as much as we do in our ability to assimilate to western cultures. A consistent way for me to understand these complexities was through practicing art. I started practicing photography at around seven after my grandfather gave me my first Kodak film camera, that was the first time I knew I wanted to take photos. From there, I found myself sewing clothes and working with textiles, and illustrating on paper. My way of understanding things about myself and the world always was in the form of non-conventional materials.

Eventually, I began studying Fine Art at the California Institute of the Arts, where I truly began fostering a new way of thinking and unlearning assimilation. My art practice for the last four years has been tackling the issues that surround the identity formation of women of color, the direct co-relation of colonialism to environmental decay and a lack of cultural diversity, and how these many interrelated forces are systematically suppressing marginal bodies. I eventually found my love for art direction when I began creating visuals for artists and musicians. As someone who has always honed in on learning the craft of aesthetics, my visual language became my greatest asset.

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What has been the biggest challenge you’ve had to face and how did you overcome it?

The process of making art is never smooth. Choosing a field of study that is known to not have any monetary returns any time soon, and that doesn’t guarantee any jobs was a battle, to begin with. But I know myself, I know that the only times I excel are times when I am doing something I love. So finding the motivation, not in financial stability but something that contributes to the rupture of the systems of inequality is an easy choice on most days but on days where my practice feels stagnant, and the world seems unopen, it’s hard to push through.

I am often reminded when I step into art institutions and museums that my peers may be ready to have conversations of decolonizing but institutions are not. The world, in general, is not ready to give space to more people of color and to hear the perspectives of non-western voices. Art has historically been a field that has only given value to white male artists, it wasn’t until the 70’s when another voice was even starting to be considered, let alone be given the same value- culturally and financially. So trying to enter this space as a young Indian woman, is very intimidating.

I have to remind myself that there is importance in the conversations I am bringing into art and academia. I find myself having to explain the language, symbols, and signs I am using that people haven’t been exposed to because that sort of representation hasn’t existed in art before, but I am hoping I am laying a base for future artists of color.

If you had to pick the TOP 3 people you’d want to meet that could take your career (or business) to the next level…who would those 3 people be?

I would love to meet and work with- Lauren Halsey, Amber Asaly, and Anna Wintour. That would be my favorite fine artist, favorite female photographer and then the most influential magazine editor that has had the experience of working with the best photographers and art directors in the world. I have a lot to learn from them all.

List the direct links/URL to your social media profiles so people can follow you: *

Paige Galdieri
Paige Galdieri
Paige is a talented mind with a creative edge that propels her to be someone you want to know. She's a master networker, social media maven, and section editor to several online magazine publications. Paige is also a phenomenal actor, singer, voice-over actor, and comedian. Follow Paige on IG & TikTok, you won't be disappointed.


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