Cleveland-based Artist Hopes to Make Emotional Impact Through Art

Photo provided by Kaylie Harden

On May 15, Kaylie Harden posted three images of handmade jewelry displays on her Twitter account. Each display features a corkboard area and a wire section for storing earrings, a rod for rings, a wooden shelf and three hanging hooks for necklaces. Plus, they are all hand painted in a variety of colors and themes. 

Harden posted the images with the hope of receiving a few custom orders to sustain her art business, but she definitely did not anticipate just how much attention her jewelry displays would get. One retweet turned into 100 and then 200 and then 300. Harden’s tweet currently has 671 retweets and 4.3 thousand likes. 

“That was the most engagement I had ever gotten online from a project,” Harden says. “I got more inquiries than I ever imagined and I was on backorder waiting for supplies up until this week.” 

Harden, a Cleveland native, first became interested in art during her sophomore year of high school when she took an elective art class “as a joke.” But, over the course of that year she realized how therapeutic painting was for her and genuinely fell in love with the process. After receiving a lot of recognition at a few local and state art shows, Harden knew that her passion for art was something that she needed to continue throughout college. 

Though she completed one semester at the Cleveland Institute of Art, Harden knew that art school wasn’t the right fit for her and graduated from Ohio University with a degree in sports management which has allowed her to utilize her artistic abilities through graphic design for the athletics department. 

While working toward her degree, Harden spent her free time creating custom portraits and other art pieces for her friends. Now, she continues a similar balancing act while working a part-time day job and pursuing her passion project on the side.

Photo provided by Kaylie Harden

“I’ve been trying to juggle my options between graduated school and taking on a full-time job or continuing to build my portfolio and trying to run my own [art] business,” Harden says. “I think right now my mind is in a place where I really want to just use my art in a way that’s going to help me feel like I’m making a difference in the world … I’ll probably try to work on smaller projects and take the inspiration as it comes.” 

Regardless of whether or not art will manifest itself as a full-time career for Harden, one thing is for sure: she wants her art to positively impact the lives of her consumers. This is most clearly seen in Harden’s current Black Lives Matter campaign project

Harden has partnered with a local vendor to print t-shirts with popular BLM slogans like “Hands up, don’t shoot” and “No justice no peace” which will be sold with the intention of generating revenue to donate to organizations which support the BLM movement. Even beyond this specific project, Harden hopes all of her art pieces evoke emotion from her clients. 

“My ultimate goal is to make artwork that makes people feel something and artwork that people want to look at and they want to take part in,” she says.

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As a senior studying magazine journalism at Ohio University and a passionate feminist, I created Freely Femme as a way to use my love for storytelling to highlight some of the most inspirational women in my personal life and beyond.

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