One of art's best qualities is its ability to bring people together and spark conversation. I whole-heartedly believe this is the idea behind KIACA Gallery. KIACA stands for Kabye Impact African Contemporary Art. Kabye, pronounced kah-bee-yeah, is the name of a West African Togolese ethnic group.
KIACA offers contemporary art by African, African-American, and African Diaspora cultures. The gallery's thrust is the promotion of cultural exchange. You don't go to KIACA just to buy art. You go to gain wisdom. You go to discuss and understand.
Owner Bamazi Talle, who goes by Talle, communicates with the public on various levels, offering visitors a range of interactive experiences including tours, lectures, seminars, studio classes, innovative educational programs, films, concerts, poetry readings, and other performances.
Walking into the gallery, you receive immediate confirmation that you are welcome. Talle is a wonderful host who speaks to visitors sincerely. He insisted on shaking my hand when I walked through the door, proceeded to engage me in deep conversation, and caught me off guard with a bear hug just before I left. A few weeks later, when I saw him on the street, he waved to me and shouted a greeting. I couldn't't believe he remembered my first name. It is obvious that what he does comes from the heart. Art thrives in this environment.
Every two months, KIACA offers a new exhibit, and the schedule is booked through 2012. Artists' demand for space in KIACA Gallery is so high that Talle has projected a long-term goal to open a full-scale museum dedicated to the same standards that hold his non-profit gallery together.
KIACA hosts all kinds of art: sculpture, painting, carved gourds, woven fabrics, and more. KIACA recently wrapped up a fund raising show featuring donated artwork by artists of various cultures. All proceeds from this event were donated to African organizations. Currently in the gallery are works by Gourd Master Sam X. The Gourd Master carves human forms from calabashes. This well-known artist attended the August Gallery Hop and mingled with his fans.
Talle himself is a well-known Columbus artist. His personal work lines the back wall of KIACA. Talle's recent interest has been invested in his life-sized portraits of Columbus' African artists like Ron Anderson and Tariq Tarey. Talle calls these artists "living griots," meaning they are living storytellers, passing on the stories of Africa. These portraits were recently featured at the Columbus Museum of Art.
Whether you're seeking insight into the African psyche, studying the elements of art, or just looking for good conversation, I highly recommend walking in to KIACA Gallery. It is not an experience you will soon forget.