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In addition to being a dad, husband, and artist, Kyle (Hawaiian/Japanese/Filipino) is the Special Assistant to the President for Inclusion and Assistant Professor of Education at Utah Valley University (UVU) and conducts workshops to give underrepresented youth a platform to tell their stories through artistic expression. After meeting Louie at a Mockups workshop at UVU, he was inspired to begin integrating art with his community work. Kyle uses his skills as an artist to connect with and empower young people. If the background in education and activism inspiring youth through cultural art sounds familiar, it’s easy to see how the partnership naturally developed!
Kyle's "Voyages" throw blanket
Kyle describes his aesthetic as urban pattern-based Polynesian cultural art. He began his art career as a street artist in Los Angeles, and over time, as his style has evolved, he says he realized the power of art to communicate stories. “The stories that mean most to me [are] the stories of my heritages and cultures.”
Reyes started applying cultural art to shoes after the Mockups workshop where he met Louie. For now, most of his custom shoe projects are for friends and family members (including his kids, of course).
With six young children, it takes a lot of planning and discipline to maintain and nurture an art career, so Michele and Kyle keep to a schedule. After the kids go to bed, they sit in their shared studio space and each work on their own artistic projects. The nightly ritual gives them both some much-needed quiet creative time, but also provides time to bond over cultural art as they bounce ideas off each other, share feedback, and push each other to excel. Kyle says “there’s something therapeutic, but also a deep cultural connection - artistically, but also in terms of our relationship - to work on this art together.”
Kyle's "Honu Life" phone case
Eighth Generation's Inspired Natives™ Project is all about helping motivated community artists build capacity and thrive as successful arts entrepreneurs. Bringing the Reyes family on as an Inspired Natives™ Project collaborators just made sense. Michele and Kyle’s own values and service work match closely with much of Eighth Generation’s mission and community work, recognizing a sense of responsibility to both honor past generations and build opportunities for future generations. “Our artwork communicates powerful stories and it honors our ancestors,” says Kyle, “and we have an obligation to build capacity for future generations to tell their stories.”