Art opens doors for Aaliyah Harvey


Artist Aliyah ‘Yah Yah’ Harvey turns her art into gold. Photo courtesy of Alia Harvey –

The term “starving artist” was never an option for Aaliyah “Yah Yah” Harvey.

The 26-year-old was born with an artistic gift that she uses to spin her items in gold – at least enough to feel comfortable.

“It was a struggle at first. When I was just starting to take my abilities seriously, I was working an administrative job that didn’t help me financially. But I put it on hold while I worked on my craft until I was able to work on it full time.

“The universe has a way of dealing with you, because after I took that leap of faith, doors started opening for me.”

The self-taught full-time artist is commissioned to work for people locally, regionally and internationally – all from the comfort of her home in Claxton Bay. And when the opportunity arises, she takes her supplies and skills elsewhere to host drinking and painting events.

She told WMN that when she decided to make her bold move into the art business in her early 20s, she never expected things to take off as quickly as they did.

“I’ve always been artistically inclined, but before that it was just a hobby to pass the time when I was bored. I didn’t see the potential until I realized it and started communicating, using social media to promote my work and make connections. Once people discovered my talent, the work started coming.”

Since then, her most notable creations include her illustration of the Colors of Dance coloring book for Le Rythma Dance Institute in San Fernando; the sale of a mural at the Cousoumeh festival in Siparia; and portraits of football player Stern John and musician Keyshawn Julien.

She has also shipped pieces to clients in Charlotte, Boston and Brooklyn in the US.

She said she was particularly proud of the mural – a collage of icons such as Martin Luther King, Marcus Garvey, Nelson Mandela and Bob Marley – which was requested by festival organizers on short notice and took her a week to complete.

It was bought by Machel Montano’s band manager.

Harvey said that while she doesn’t limit herself to any one medium, she works primarily in oils, in which she sometimes tries to incorporate charcoal and acrylic. And she certainly doesn’t let her lack of formal training in the visual arts get in the way of her creativity.

“I often visit YouTube University to look up techniques and hacks,” she said with a laugh.

And although she has yet to exhibit her works in any art gallery, they are on her checklist.

“The aim is to do a solo exhibition where I can display all my works, sell some and donate a few to charity. I also intend to post them on my website which is currently under construction. But as far as other plans go, I’m at a point right now where I just want to do exactly what I’m doing right now.

“My passion for travel has been consistent and I believe that passion will eventually lead me to my destiny.”

Harvey told WMN that art is such a big part of her life that it has spilled over into almost everything else she does.

“Creativity just flows through me. Even when I do normal things, I like to take it to a whole new level. I love to ride bikes and am currently learning how to make wheels. If I go fishing, I want to cook it on the spot. If I’m in the kitchen, I love trying new recipes and making food art. That’s just who I am.”

She encourages young people to see the potential in themselves, “especially when no one else does.”

“The universe works in such a way that what you put into it will come back to you. Even when it doesn’t seem sustainable, dare to follow your passion. I am living proof that you can make a sustainable living doing what you love to do full time.

Follow Aliyah “Yah Yah” Harvey on Instagram @ yahyaharts

Tik Tok: yahyah_tt

Facebook: Yah Yah Art Designs

YouTube: Yah Yah Arts.

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