Alright – so today we’ve got the honor of introducing you to Kalichi Lamar. We think you’ll enjoy our conversation, we’ve shared it below.
Alright, Kalichi thanks for taking the time to share your stories and insights with us today. Can you talk to us about a project that’s meant a lot to you?
Of course! One of the most meaningful projects I worked on was during my first opportunity in a new career. I designed a mosaic mural on canvas that was completed collaboratively with cancer patients.
The backstory begins here …
I was 15 years-old when my father passed away from pancreatic cancer. I was also a co-caregiver for my grandmother with dementia. During this time, I used art as a coping mechanism to work through my emotions. After working in administration for a few years, I made a drastic career/education change with a vision of helping others heal through art. I pursued and graduated with an M.S. and M.A. degree in Psychology and Arts in Medicine, (art as a holistic modality for mind/body wellness).
During my studies, my first opportunity in the field was when I became a volunteer at a hospital within Psychosocial services. Psychosocial services had an art therapy program that focused on cancer patients, survivors and their families. I was given the task to design a large, paper mosaic mural. The first design I created was a depiction of the sea, ocean waves, and sunset on a large poster sheet that would later be attached to canvas. Once the design was completed, I divided the poster into tiles. I then marked each space of the tile with the corresponding colors it would need. Next, I placed pieces of construction/magazine paper in small zip-lock bags for each tile. The purpose was if patients were in the chemotherapy unit (where space is limited), they would have the ability to participate in the activity.
On Thursdays, we provided group art therapy sessions. Since we had a larger room and table to work with, I was able to bring in the canvas and show the progress of completed tiles to participants. Our approach during group was less clinical and more focused on the creative process. There was no diagnosing or psychoanalyzing; rather, we walked with participants through their experience, empathized with them, and used the creative process to transmute emotions and release them into the artwork. After completing my first mural, I felt a sense of purpose and accomplishment. I felt like I was pouring what was poured into my soul when the arts helped me get through the most difficult times in my life.
In total, I designed 8 paper mosaics with patients and survivors. Before I moved on to the next phase in my career, a survivor wrote me a special note about the impact the art sessions had on her, and the impact I had as a facilitator on her healing journey. I keep this note with me as a reminder that I am living my purpose, not just as an artist, but as an art healer as well.
Kalichi, before we move on to more of these sorts of questions, can you take some time to bring our readers up to speed on you and what you do?
Sure! I will start with my name, because it is the base of my identity. My name is Kalichi, Taino for “fountain of the high mountain,” my birth name given by my parents. I am from the island of Borikén where my roots are tied to my name and my connection to nature. I am also part of the Higuayagua Taino of the Caribbean tribe, where we focus on cultural education, spirituality, and language reconstruction.
I have an M.S. and M.A. degree in Psychology and Arts in Medicine, (art as a holistic modality for mind/body wellness), and have worked professionally with cancer patients and the elderly. I entered this career from personal experience with illness when my father passed from Pancreatic cancer. I was also a co-caregiver for my grandmother with dementia, and the arts are what helped me cope through those difficult times.
I run a small, online shop where I create wood-burn art pieces and self-care, crafted items for the home and sacred spaces. Through my wood-burnings, I express my inspiration from nature and indigenous Taino roots. It’s a personal connection to nature as the smoke envelops my space…my own incense and prayer infused into each piece. I also create from dreams and Spirit, where each creation is like carving a Cemi to honor my ancestors. More importantly, I create to inspire others to reconnect to self, nature, and Spirit.
As an art healer, I offer virtual, creative wellness sessions to promote relaxation, mindfulness, and connection to your creative Spirit. To increase the sense of wellbeing, healing is engaged through the lens of indigenous community healing. During sessions, all thoughts and emotions are honored through a collective awareness of those feelings, which can be transformed or released through the creative process. I am not a therapist, but the services I provide have therapeutic benefits. I do not diagnose or psychoanalyze client’s work. Rather, I walk with them through their experience, empathize with them, and use the creative process to transmute emotions and release them onto paper. The result is a mind-body experience with the art and creative process. The creative wellness sessions provided are BIPOC safe spaces and open to everyone.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of being a creative in your experience?
The most rewarding aspect of being an artist is the ability to pour my soul visually, with the hope that it inspires viewers to see the best in themselves, beauty in their roots, and to keep their curiosity of the world alive.
Is there a mission driving your creative journey?
The mission driving my creative journey is my motto for my business, which is “Reconnect to Self & Nature.” Reconnect to self through creative wellness sessions, and reconnect to nature through my woodburnings on pieces that come from earth. Together, the goal is to inspire these connections – “Reconnect to Self & Nature.”
- Website: https://www.kalichisessentials.com/
- Instagram: kalichi_essentials
- Facebook: kalichi_essentials
Photos were taken by – Kalichi Lamar