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Louis "Kengi" Carr

Louis

Louis "Kengi" Carr is a California native, born and raised in Santa Monica. He is a published photographer, writer and guest speaker. Formerly a private chef and events caterer, this formerly homeless, HIV positive, proud Angelino is now a activist and advocate for people with HIV and homeless individuals. He is the creator/founder of Project Kengikat, Do Something Saturday, Unplugging HIV and the author of 29 Months.

A lover of photography, blogging and vlogging and USC Football, Kengi has been rediscovering his love for Los Angeles, ceramics, painting and cooking while elevating the conversations of HIV and homelessness. He enjoys being outdoors, spending quality time with his friends and his amazing rescue dog Dodger.

May13

When HIV and the art world connect

Friday, 13 May 2016 Written by // Louis "Kengi" Carr - L.A. Correspondent Categories // Art, Hobbies, Arts and Entertainment, Mental Health, Upcoming Events, Photography, Opinion Pieces, Louis "Kengi" Carr

Our L. A. guy Kengi on finding a voice and empowerment through art

When HIV and the art world connect

As I sit down to type this article I’m smiling, listening to ‘Higher Than This’ by Ledisi, while sitting inside my gallery. Yeah, I know right? My gallery. I still giggle every single time I say it.

As many of you know my life has always been filled with music, art and photography and as I’ve said many times before, photography has been and still is my therapy. During homelessness photography was my voice. It spoke loud and clear for me, allowing me to raise awareness for many issues homeless individuals face day in and day out.

After becoming diagnosed with HIV right in the middle of homelessness, once again photography was my voice, but it was also a way for me to escape the harshness of the bleak reality of homelessness and HIV. Art, music and photography made my life normal, it made me normal.

There’s a healing that takes place for me when I’m painting an abstract piece, listening to music and most certainly while I’m out with my camera. It’s a healing and peace I’ve never been able to get from a support group or talking with a therapist. I feel as if I can simply let go of things, my mind and soul become relaxed and at peace. It’s like there is no one else around, no one else to be concerned about and no one there to judge me, not even myself. It’s a certain kind of healing I only get from art, music and photography.

This is why I love to share my passion for art, music and photography with anyone who’ll take the time to listen. It’s why I want my gallery to be a place where artists can share their passions and talents with others and hopefully experience the same kind of peace and healing.

I never would have guessed or even planned where my life is right now, but I can say that I’m incredibly thankful and happy with where my life is and all the amazing people in it. I certainly never thought I would be sitting in my own gallery on the 11th floor of the REEF in Downtown Los Angeles hanging the final pieces for my second art exhibition which opens on Friday, but here I am.

The gallery is Evolve and is in honor of the Evolve art show I created a few years ago, but most importantly it also fits the space itself which is always changing or Evolving, if you will. Evolving is something that has also been taking place in my own personal life.

I mean think about it, I was homeless and really having a difficult time with remaining in HIV care when Bob first interviewed me for PositiveLite. In fact, I was still homeless when I started writing here. Fast forward to today and I’m close to celebrating 7 years in my apartment, I’ve photographed countless red carpets and even two magazine covers for Positively Aware Magazine. Not to mention I’ve already hosted my first Courage Awards for people living with HIV and AIDS here in Los Angeles and now I’m a gallery owner.

I must say along this journey I’ve been fully supported by a very small close knit circle of amazing friends who not only love me unconditionally but support me unconditionally. It feels great to have this in my life, especially in a world where social media has actually made us anti-social and folks can pretend that something as silly as a “like” is a form of support.

NIA, which means purpose, opens this Friday, May 13th at 6pm. It features close to 20 paintings from Ethiopia as well as amazing pieces created here in the United States. I’m incredibly honored to be able to present this show.

I’m sharing all of this to illustrate that Sickle Cell, homelessness, cancer or even HIV has no ability to prevent me from living an amazing life and creating amazing things which actually help empower and encourage people. I’m sharing this in hopes of inspiring someone to get up, get out there and live their life.

Chase down your dreams and create more. The only thing holding any of us back is ourselves. Go live your life and do so with no regrets or apologies. YOU deserve to live. So hop to it.

"Light that reflects in the mirror, showing the essence of who I am. Made from pure perfection, I’m connected to the one, therefore I am. One to rise above all the ugliness, evolve into a world of selflessness. I can see love and no love can be higher than this. What can be higher than this?”

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