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Meet Yama Barkaee of Kahmili in Newton Centre

Today we’d like to introduce you to Yama Barkaee.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Yama. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I moved to Boston from Israel 3 years ago, following a job opportunity pursued by my spouse. Prior to the move was an established self-employed interior designer, and the move tore me from my career, larger family and friends. The first couple of months in the new place were very exciting to me, but as life got into a more routine state I went into a very dark and lonely period, painfully learning how connected I was to my homeland’s language, culture and day to day habits. As part of coping – and now that I had spare time on my hands – I could devote myself into writing poetry, something I always wished to find time to do. As I worked on publishing my first poetry book I was looking to find a visual representation to each poem, and started exploring with different materials, colors and textures – wire, textile and canvas – until I finally found myself again in abstract and figurative art, proven to best represent my inner world. I since published a series of works, presenting in several galleries across the nation, including NYC and Boston. I also opened my own studio where I teach hands-on art and crafts.

Has it been a smooth road?
While I was in an emotional turmoil on the first steps of my journey, I know today that it could not have been different for me, and that the challenges I met greatly contributed into my art and the way I express myself. The exploratory process of finding the ‘right’ type of art, media and content is indeed a never ending journey. Once I felt comfortable with my work and wanted to share it with the world. Getting recognition doesn’t come easily, but it is a super awesome feeling to see your works hung for display in a gallery, or hearing from the person just bought your work on they connect to it. Similarly, the first few steps of opening my studio were challenging from the sense of advertising etc., but being self-employed before helped me a lot. And lucky for me, I have a very supportive family to get me through the hard times and to share my victories with!

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Kahmili story. Tell us more about the business.
I own my arts and crafts studio, where I teach a variety of hand-on classes, such as intuitive drawing, wire sculpting, sewing, knitting, felting, furniture up cycling, and more. The in-house studio is opened during evening, when women (mostly…) from all around come to express themselves in the most authentic way, which is what I’m proud the most of.
In addition, I sell my work online. There aren’t many things more gratifying in life than having another person recognizing and connecting to your art so that they want to have it mounted in their living room, home office or wherever.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
Art will keep on taking an important role in people’s lives. Specifically, I believe small, art-centric businesses like mine will keep on growing in the next few years. As our world gets more demanding, perhaps even alienating to some, I believe people will keep looking for a mental release. Connecting to one’s inner self through hands-on crafting one’s art and learning a new non-work-related skill, all while meeting new friends in a very informal environment is a great way to get such release.

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