Broad of the Month: Kimothy Joy Pikor
By Lisa Ingarfield | @tritodefi
Kimothy Joy is a Denver-based artist who uses her creative talent to spark social change in her community. Her work has been featured in national outlets such as O Magazine, Refinery29, Glamour, Teen Vogue, and The Huffington Post. She is also the creator of our much-adored logo for The Broadview Denver.
A self declared “natural born hustler,” Pikor stepped out into the land of freelancing about three years ago and has never looked back.
Pikor’s mother had a talent for creating things from nothing; her ingenuity inspired Pikor as a child to use her imagination in all aspects of her life. Pikor’s mother passed away in 2009 from breast cancer and her mother’s death affected Pikor, perhaps even more so than her life. She wasn’t around in Pikor’s late 20s to provide advice and guidance. When Pikor talks about her mother, you can hear the glow in her voice. She describes her as her best friend, instilling in Pikor an appreciation for possibility.
Her mother, a second generation Mexican American, was aware of the limitations of being a woman, growing up in Texas in the 50s when segregation was still a very real experience. Yet, her mother’s personality and the way she lived her life made everything feel possible. Of her mother, Pikor shares: “Nothing felt unattainable. [She had an] overall zest for life. She was excited to be alive.” Pikor describes her energy as “total aliveness.”
Painting Empowerment and Collaboration
Pikor’s artwork is brimming with messages of empowerment for women and girls: “Nevertheless She Persisted” and similar messages ring out from her watercolors. Yet, the trajectory in her artwork derives from a place of feeling disconnected from womanhood. As a teen growing up in a conservative and extremely religious community in Ohio, she felt separated from other women, stuck in competition instead of collaboration. Pikor never felt like she had a voice. She is the only girl in her family and losing her mother, a crucial person in her maternal lineage, disconnected Pikor from womanhood even further.
As she has grown older, moving from her twenties to her thirties, she has slowly reclaimed her voice and her connection to womanhood. She now has what she calls a “tribe of women,” something she had longed for in her youth. After her mother died, she sought out women for collaboration and support very intentionally. After the 2016 election, Pikor started a group called “For Folx Sake” in an effort to build support and connection for women activists in Denver. Activism burnout is a real issue, and through this group, which meets twice monthly, Pikor has been able to engage in the Denver community in meaningful and sustainable ways, while also growing her (re)connection to womanhood.
The Brush is Mightier than the Sword
In addition to her disconnection from, and reconnection to, womanhood, Pikor’s artwork also represents the pain and frustration she feels about what she isn’t seeing in the world. Her top priority is sharing messages of unity and hope. Focusing on positive energy and reminding people we are not all that different is central to the way Pikor approaches her art and work with local nonprofits. As a freelance artist and creative communicator, she partners with nonprofits, assisting them in navigating barriers and challenges, while enhancing their community impact. Pikor believes there are creative ways to promote social change messages in meaningful ways. She wants to wrap data in a story, using photos and illustrations. This is what she calls her strong suit, and it wasn’t until recently she really understood this was where she was needed and where she would thrive.
As Pikor talks about her artwork and some of the driving forces behind the projects she takes on, she notes the lack of women’s narratives in our culture, and particularly in our schools. She cites a 2015 study by the National Women’s History Museum which found “fewer than one in four Americans consider themselves knowledgeable about notable women and their accomplishments.” Much of what we learn about women in history, Pikor laments, is just the tip of the iceberg. This significant absence of women’s narratives spurred her to publish her book That’s What She Said, a collection of 50 women throughout history and the present day, each presented with a short bio, quote, and portrait painted by Pikor. For Pikor, without a concerted effort to elevate the voices and stories of women, we don’t realize the fundamental structures in our culture elevate men’s voices and exclude women’s, in particular women of color. Sharing women’s stories is therefore vital.
As for us broads, Pikor encourages us to embrace our creativity, and use it in tangible ways to support social change. She also recommends we support women rising into leadership positions through programs such as EMERGE and Emily’s List, and support organizations providing leadership development, mentorship and counseling to at-risk girls in our public schools. “These groups are vital in reshaping and reprogramming the way girls view themselves, and this ultimately affects their potential as leaders in the community later on” says Pikor. Some of the organizations Pikor works with include Denver Kids, Inc. Smart-Girl, and nationally, I AM THAT GIRL. Broads, let’s get creative and help Pikor paint a new picture for women and girls in Denver and beyond.