Today we’re joined by Kiowa. Kiowa is a phenomenal visual artist and jewelry maker. She also makes a few odds and ends with yarn, mostly ropes. For visual art, Kiowa uses traditional mediums, favoring chalk pastels and chalk pencils. Aside from jewelry, Kiowa has also made some cool things for her horses. It’s clear she’s a passionate and creative individual who loves making things, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Please, tell us about
I dabble in a few different artistic pursuits – drawing,
writing, and making jewelry, primarily. I also make all sorts of things with
yarn, mostly by braiding it into ropes. I draw the old school way, on paper and
board with usually chalk pastel or chalk pencil; I have no idea about all this
new-fangled electronic stuff. I mostly work with beads for jewelry, though I’m
branching out into working with horsehair a bit; I’ll try whatever I can get my
hands on. My yarn crafts began out of boredom; I would braid long chains of
yarn to keep my hands busy and keep awake during boring classes in college, and
then I had all this yarn, so I used some of it to reinforce a rope halter and
then realized I could make all sorts of cool shit for the horses. I’ve made
fancy Arabian necklaces, a tie down, some little bits and bobs to adjust tack
to fit my weird horses…
What inspires you?
Horses, mostly. Horses are definitely the focus of my drawing,
and a lot of my miscellaneous crafts tend to be making things for the horses.
My jewelry making tends to be more “on a whim,” just making whatever strikes me
when I look at the beads. Sometimes my ideas are really vague and other times
they’re super specific. You just never know!
As for my writing, I have always had some sort of story or
another that’s playing out in my imagination. I tend towards fantasy, and just
about anything might inspire me. I’ve dabbled in fanfiction more than a bit
over the years but always like to come back to my characters and my stories to
see what I might put to paper. I am also quite good at non-fiction and
persuasive writing, particularly short form. I can write a mean email.
When I’m creating anything, I have to have some kind of
auditory input. It’s usually music, though I will watch/listen to movies or TV
when I’m making jewelry. And it has to be the right input – if I’m going to be
drawing Kalarime, I have to play the songs of his people (Bastille). If I’m
writing particular characters, I want to listen to their favorite music.
What got you
interested in your field? Have you
always wanted to be an artist?
When I was four, I was asked what I’d like to do when I grew
up. I said “artist, writer, horse trainer, and one of the people at the airport
that directs planes to the gates with glow sticks.” I have since aimed for
slightly different employment but I’ve never lost my interest in creation. I
have no earthly idea how I arrived at that but here I am, twenty-three years
later, still doing my first three goals. I got to wave glow sticks somewhere
else so I can check that off the bucket list.
Do you have any kind
of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work
that you’d be willing to reveal?
Well, most of my drawings are horses. This is not surprising
to anyone who has ever met me. For both drawing and jewelry, I naturally
gravitate towards cool colors because I like them and I think yellow and orange
are ugly colors and I can do whatever I want so there. My stories are often
very dark and bloody and someone dies. But we’ll all die one day so there’s
that. I really just do whatever I like.
What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?
Whatever it is you like to do, do it. No one will do it the
way you can do it. You will get better over time – but first, you have to be
bad at it. It’s okay to hate what you’ve made, because the act of making
something bad is part of learning how to be good. You don’t have to share every
single thing you make with the world – art can be just for you. Listen to your
teachers, but they don’t know everything either. Work from left to right (if
you’re right handed) with chalk pastels and charcoal, and don’t touch anything
until you’ve washed your hands; you will have pastel all over you. Don’t drop
your bead containers, because cleaning beads up off the floor sucks.
Where on the spectrum
do you identify?
Aroflux asexual and genderqueer to boot
Have you encountered
any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
I have not yet and I am grateful. I hope that if I ever do,
it comes not to my face but in written form so I can dismantle that ignorance
with my words. I am much more eloquent and composed in text than in speech.
What’s the most
common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
I’ve been extremely fortunate not to encounter out-and-out
acephobia. Most people that I’ve spoken to IRL about asexuality have assumed
that asexuality and aromanticism go hand in hand (and they don’t usually have a
word for aromanticism). Since I’m just a hair shy of being fully aromantic
myself, that hasn’t caused me many issues but it’s also a lack of education
that can be confusing to people.
I have had people (including my mom) wonder what made me this way. I’ve always been this
way. There was no event or trauma. I’m just… me. I think it’s really
disheartening for all queer folk, regardless of identity, to have a piece of
our selves be questioned and assumed
to be a result of some action or event. No one is ever asked what made them cis
or het, yet we all have to explain that our identity is just… part of us. It’s
also so hard to say how much of an identity is innate and how much comes to the
environment we grew up in and the things we internalized – the gender
stereotypes that one person internalizes and performs can cause another person
to develop dysphoria and be a part of their trans identity. So who is to say
why we have the identities we have or what made us a certain way? That’s not
the point. The point is that this is who
What advice would you
give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their
I’ve never struggled with it, even before I had a word, I
just always assumed that since this is how I am, that’s okay. So, to anyone
lost or confused or unhappy – you are how you are, and that’s okay. Even if it
doesn’t feel okay now, it will be okay. Your sexuality is a part of you, as
much as your eyes and your fingernails and every other bit of you. Don’t fight
with yourself – learn about yourself. Seek acceptance and understanding both
internally and externally. You cannot and should not force yourself to be
anything you are not. Authenticity is the best trait, so be authentically
asexual and authentically you.
Finally, where can
people find out more about your work?
I have a Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/littlehorsedesigns,
where I post all the stuff I’m making and offer jewelry for sale. I also take
art commissions (particularly if you have horses). Little Horse Designs pretty
much just goes straight into paying for my three horses, Kalarime, Geronimo,
and Gabe. You can also find me at nolivingunderstarlight.tumblr.com
and message me either place.
Thank you, Kiowa, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.