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Rising Stars: Meet Kayla Dunham-Torres

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kayla Dunham-Torres.

Hi Kayla, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
I am originally from Washington State, a whole 3,000 miles away. And I’ve traveled down to Savannah to get into better touch with art and learn a little more as I grow. For the better part of my life, I grew up without the words to describe what I was feeling or what I was going through.

So to cope with the things I could touch, feel, and see, but not characterize; I leaned on art. In turn, a broken pencil and small sketchbook turned out to be my savior. Now that I am out of that dark place, I create art to give words and hope to people that are like or were once like I was. As an artist, I aim to put honesty and beauty to the little snippets of life we overlook and bring a little hope to those trapped in the darkness.

I like to describe myself as an art history nerd and an Amazonian woman. And really, I am a person that likes to have fun and explore the world I’m making for myself. Every step I take now leads me one step closer to my end goal of making a difference and helping others that are exposed to situations and lives of foster care, abuse, and neglect.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
It wasn’t a smooth road to get where I am now, not in the slightest. But I wouldn’t say I regret that entirely. I believe in a balance of energy in the world and since I survived it all, I wouldn’t trade lives with anyone. Support and unconditional love were never a given. So as I bounced through the years, I tackled alone trying to figure out who I was and what I wanted to be.

The struggle was only worsened because at every turn I was shot down and negated. I guess the hardest thing to overcome along my path was the negative mindset that was ingrained in me from birth. Those little voices in my head that told me I wasn’t worth it or I wasn’t good enough were much louder than I care to admit. Frankly, that made existing day-to-day very difficult. In the end, it created a survivor.

Not one without scars, but a survivor either way. Once I was able to move past that, I really leaned into what I wanted to be and who I wanted to be. From that discovery, I really became the artist I was meant to be.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
As an artist, I specialize in digital and traditional illustration. I’m known for my grittier style and vibrant lighting, as well as my ability to adapt to other styles when necessary.

I am most proud of my artworks which resonate with a lot of emotion. Recently I’ve been working on a series of artwork featuring women in positions that are not only powerful, but honest, raw, and relatable.

I think when it comes to my art versus others I create from what I experienced. And because I experienced so much (all of which I would never wish on another person) I have a lot of heavy feelings and sentiments to tap into.

Can you tell us more about what you were like growing up?
For lack of a better description, I was A LOT growing up. Not only did I have an endless amount of energy, but I had the imagination to leave my guardians wishing for their money back. I loved to read and draw, and tinkering toys like legos and blocks.

I was notorious for getting into trouble, even if it was by accident. It wasn’t my fault they made sledding off the roof so fun! As I got older, I found interests in sports like wrestling, basketball, and sharpshooting. Making people laugh and smile was always a go-to for me.

So if that meant I was going to be singing very off-key or jumping around and dancing around like an idiot, I would be doing it just to make people smile. Overall, I tried my best to be a happy kid even if I was growing up through hell.


  • $25 an hour.

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