The following is a short interview with Kekoa from a collaboration with Thrive Collective. Thrive Collective is a non-profit organization that creates hope and opportunity through arts and mentoring in public schools.

How did you first get involved with Thrive?

Before it all became Thrive, I started with Generation Xcel back in 2006. Then started helping Jeremy (Thrive Collective’s Executive Director) with what was then 20/20 Vision for Schools in 2011. After that, I was hired as a design consultant, with on and off jobs. I was hired again for the mural at PS 34, then hired as a teaching artist and muralist. Eventually this all lead to a job as studio manager, directing the Bring Art Back campaign and a lot less sleep.


What is the Bring Art Back campaign about?

It’s our effort to drive awareness around the need for art education in NYC public schools. 419 schools lack any form of art expression, there’s a lack of creativity and creative outlets. So naturally you can imagine what types of negative things can fill the void. Or maybe you can’t, depending on what you were exposed to for your own creative expressions. Maybe you didn’t have the opportunity to learn about symbolism or critical thinking and abstract train of thoughts. Or maybe I’m just getting too deep without enough substantial evidence. You’re going to edit this, right?

Thrive Collective, Collab Collection Ed. 001

Absolutely, but why don’t you tell us what art means to you.

Sure, art is my voice. My window into my thoughts and my soul. It helps me express complicated ideas or emotions I have.


Lastly, tell us about the collaborative t-shirt design you did for Thrive.

Well, I was inspired by a class of kindergarten students. They were asked, “What would the world be like without art?” And these are the images that came to mind listening to them. I mean, even that question provokes such creativity among the kids, it’s like it’s impossible to imagine a world without art because it’s embedded in our very being. So why would we not help foster that?


This was a short interview with the artist, Kekoa. Visit to learn more about the #bringartback campaign and Thrive Collective’s vision to provide art programs for NYC students by donating or getting your own Bring Art Back apparel and help spread the message.

Originally posted WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 18, 2017 at KEKOA.