When the Museum’s education department contacted Bessemer native Kyoka Akers about being its 2018 Emerging Artist, she knew what she would create without hesitation: a colorful installation of crochet dolls. However, selecting the subject matter was about as far as the planning went for Akers. She let the dolls tell their ow stories, which manifested into the current exhibition, Crown Jewels. The installation is now view in Bart’s ArtVenture, the Museum’s interactive family gallery.
Akers created the Crown Jewels exhibition through a combination of writing, crocheting, and sewing. It marries all three of Aker’s trades, a rare opportunity in her career as an artist.
“Whatever it is that you do, do it all,” she said. “You don’t have to choose. I always thought I had to choose between my writing and my crocheting, but they both worked with this exhibition, and it wasn’t even intentional.”
Each doll Akers meticulously crafted is original. She chose not to work from a pattern in order to emphasize each doll’s individuality. Akers also refrained from assigning the dolls a background story, something she wanted Museum visitors to develop themselves.
“We are living in a society where everyone wants to be a copy of something, and I just want people to embrace their own uniqueness, whatever that may be and however that may be,” Akers said. “If we are all looking for a sense of self not within ourselves, that’s a problem. I stress uniqueness and individualism because that’s what we need to get back to.”
When asked what she hopes visitors will gain from her exhibition, Akers responded simply, “Confidence. I just really wanted to plant positive seeds.”
For more on Artist Kyoka Akers, follow her on Instagram @Kokos_Originals.