26 July 2014

Beautiful People: Jiji Kikhia

Jiji Kikhia wears Jean Paul Gautier jumpsuit, Converse sneakers and a beautiful necklace made by a Indian artisan (if you are/know the maker of this piece, let us know!). 
Photo by Austin Phelps


Jiji Kikhia is half-Syrian, half-Libyan and was raised in France and the United States. Jiji studied International and Comparative Politics with a concentration on Human Rights, Development, and International Law at the American University of Paris. She is currently doing her masters in The Arts and Social Change at Gallatin with a focus on social work and healing arts. She mainly paints and draws with acrylic, ink, and charcoal, but is also experimenting with incorporating dance and body movement in her work. Her style is abstract and the subjects she is currently investigating are embodiment, identity, and the feminine. Jiji is committed to discovering and nurturing the different ways in which humanitarian aid and the healing arts merge, and how the creative process can be a vehicle for freedom and empowerment.

    ("She" and "Self Portrait" by Jiji Kikhia Art)
("The Curve" by Jiji Kikhia Art)

I explore how the arts can be used as a channel for increasing self-awareness and individual empowerment. In general, I want to create safe environments where people feel free to express themselves and to experience their own presence by heightening their senses, whether through dance, drawing, theatre, music, etc.
("Woman in Gold" by Jiji Kikhia Art)

("Woman #1" by Jiji Kikhia Art)

("Rays" by Jiji Kikhia Art)

Current Projects

Currently, I am working and volunteering at various arts organizations in New York City where I am learning as many skills as possible so that I can eventually lead my own workshops. I am eager to work with all types of populations, especially the youth around the world.


I have also been exploring the theme of embodiment and how transforming the surface of the human body transforms identity. As a painter and drawer, I am specifically interested in body painting and ornamentation, and how the human figure is used as a vessel of expression. I have recently started a project where I paint on the figures and faces of individuals and photo-document and film the process. This project has already been featured in Genevieve Curtis’s short film "Embodiment of Memory," which is a stop motion film that reveals the transformation of impromptu painting on the faces and figures of two women.

(Filmmaker and Director: Genevieve Curtis) 

In my paintings, by photo-documenting my painting process, I am taking the audience on a journey through the metamorphosis of lines that create a figure or face, symbolizing the creation of life and memory. The figure is adorned with countless celebratory marks and twists that echo the language of the cosmos, while also resembling body ornaments. The paintings portray the themes of embodiment and perspective, where a painful or traumatic scar for one individual is seen as equivalent to a minute impression in the constellation of life. As a result, instead of diminishing the significance of individual pain, these adornments reflect a holistic perspective of life, where the individual being is part of a greater, collective movement in our unbounded universe. I choose to decorate the skin and organs as if I was painting stars in the sky: detached, playful, and powerful.

Jiji's Relationship to Brazil

I am in love the country's music and culture. The country has a very rich history and includes many diverse cultures. I don't know much about Brazil on a deeper level, but like most people around the world, I am completely charmed by it. And although, I know that the country is going through difficult times now politically and socially, there is still something magical about that part of the world.
("Still Standing" by Jiji Kikhia Art)

Some of my favorite things about Brazil are the music, the festive and colorful culture, and its nature. 

Jiji and ReciclaGEM

Jiji is a phenomenal artist and generously modeled in our Bricolage: Making of the Collection video earlier this year. Jiji is a truly Beautiful Person to watch.

The Making of ReciclaGEM from Julia Gorbach on Vimeo.

Thank you, Jiji, for your beauty, artistry, talent and grace! You make our world better,


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