Dreams do come true

Photojournalist and artist Layla Love will have an exhibition of her work from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday at the new Kilauea location of Urban Indigenous Boutique and Gallery at 4480-B Hookui Road.

The “Band of Light” will perform from 4 to 6 p.m.

“Layla is an amazing visionary who has had her work exhibited in the White House and will now be the subject of a documentary,” said Gallery owner Jana De Carvalho.

She said the goal of Love’s work is a fusion of art and story telling that will change the viewer’s state of consciousness in a healing way.

The exhibition will include pieces from her collection, “She Of God,” that will be published by Hay House Publications this year. It will also include collaborative pieces with artist Amanda Sage and digital painter Andrew Jones.

After a decade traveling the world photographing orphanages, royal palaces and rock stars, Layla Love comes to Kauai to focus on her health, well-being and new projects that point to a new chapter in her life.

“I took a year to transform my body and it is a life’s dream come true,” Love said.

As a child living in Washington, D.C., Love was diagnosed with Dystonia, a neurological disorder that kept her bed ridden for much of her teenage years. She was inspired by the art of Banksy and her interest in photography grew from the specialists that were taking pictures of her progress.

Photography was Love’s way of expression and it was also the answer to her concerns that her physical condition was not conducive to a 9-to-5 job. She pursued photography and journalism for the flexibility they offered as a career alternative.

After earning degrees in journalism and visual communication at UC Santa Cruz, and Richmond American International University in London, Love took on work as a field photographer in Chad, Cameroon and Nigeria in 1998. She was 21 and the experience of witnessing poverty and starvation firsthand would change her life.

“I was never the same again,” Love said. “My heart was breaking and I felt like I had to do something and for me art was the way to do something.”

Affecting change

After working in 11 countries around the world, Love designed a personalized course of study that examined how journalism and photography may be used to affect change in small communities. She has since published three books of images and writings on those experiences.

“Art changes people and people change the world,” Love said.

Love’s work would aid the L.E.A.F. Foundation to raise money for orphans in West Africa. She would receive the Goodwill Ambassador Award for volunteer service and fundraising efforts at orphanages in India, Vietnam, and Croatia.

Modern medicine helped Love gain control of her body and her life once again. However, she said the side effects from the medicine were destroying her organs and making her blind.

“With pain and suffering comes a conversation with God,” she said. “You ask ‘why am I alive and why am I pushing through something?’”

The great experiment has been to go medication-free for two months and her time on Kauai has been to turn to naturopathic and ayurvedic healing. She was inspired by people who eat healthy, meditate and exercise, and the natural and fertile setting of Kauai was conducive to embark on her own healing journey.

“It is about the interconnectedness of all things,” she said.

Love’s life story

The same filmmakers who are nominated for this year’s best feature documentary award at the Academy Awards with “The Square,” are interested in telling Love’s story in their next project. Why would filmmakers who focused on the “Arab Spring” in Egypt want to tell Love’s story?

“I am rights oriented and at this moment it is about the rights of people to own their own health and healthcare,” Love said.

As a person used to being behind the camera, Love said she is not very excited to expose herself in such a personal way through film but she felt it was a way to use her own story to tell the larger one of how people can take control of their health and be aware of greed and power.

“The only reason I wanted to do the documentary was to film and create to show how we can be vulnerable and scared about not knowing what we are doing,” she said. “It is to say that we still need to try and reach out and have these conversations.”

Joy of living

Art is self-reflection and a desire to grow and transform, Love said. It is about never to be satisfied, but to be grateful and to know that the joy of being alive is propelled from the creative desire and wanting to make a difference.

The idea was not to make a drama about her plight but about how it became a story of strength and determination and then the grand experiment. It becomes a statement on the broader human rights story and the pharmaceutical industry as another revolution.

“It is about cultivating an Earth voyage of how to bring all these artists qualities together to do service work on a global scale,” Love said. “Bringing it all together is the ultimate grand finale of the story.”

For two months Love lives in a separate dwelling on a solar-powered banana farm without Internet and no indoor plumbing. She relented to the coffee shops toward the end to communicate with colleagues about her work.

For information call 634-1430 and visit www.lovephotography.org.


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