Meet Kiarra, An Eco-Consious Painter Giving New Life To Recycled Wood

Eco-friendliness is no new concept, but if you’ve been even slightly conscious over the past couple years, you may have noticed a barrage of headlines and movements popping up that focus on climate change and pollution. More and more people are grasping just how finite many of our resources are, and they’re making commitments to reduce their carbon footprints and take care of our planet.


While artists may find it difficult to substitute their materials for ones that are more environmentally friendly, there are big things and little things we can all do to minimize waste. Take inspiration from New York-based Kiarra Elliott, known in the artist community as Afrocentric Keyy, a self-described “eco-conscious oil painter” who creates stunning portraits on recycled wood.

Paintings by Kiarra Elliot / Afrocentric Keyy

“I have always loved nature and the beauty of seeing how many forms it can take on. I wanted to take that same beauty and fuse it into what ‘traditional portraiture art’ could look like.”

“I was first exposed to using wood canvas in 2013 during my senior year [of college] by an art professor who helped me think outside the box and challenge the normalities of what fine art is and what it could look like,” Kiarra explained. “I have always loved nature and the beauty of seeing how many forms it can take on. I wanted to take that same beauty and fuse it into what ‘traditional portraiture art’ could look like.”

The wood canvases caught on, and if you scroll Kiarra’s Instagram account, you’ll find a portfolio full of gorgeous portraits painted on the recycled material.

“After my very first trail painting on a wood canvas, I instantly fell in love with the process and all of the challenges that came with it. It was a life-changing experience. I solidified using recycled wood canvas as my base in my first solo exhibit just a few weeks after completing my senior year of college.”

Kiarra’s work centers “distinctive human figures and animal infused portraits.” She experiments with color to bring her expressive, profound artwork to life, and she wants to honor herself and those who inspire her with each piece.

Paintings by Kiarra Elliot / Afrocentric Keyy

“My focus is to promote beauty, strength, realness, and uniqueness in each painting to start a conversation and ignite emotions,” Kiarra reflected. “Each of my paintings is one of a kind and shares not only a small piece of my own story but the story of those that have come before me and who will proceed me.”

“My focus is to promote beauty, strength, realness, and uniqueness in each painting to start a conversation and ignite emotions,”

With portraits as profound and unique as what Kiarra creates, I had to wonder what kind of attention she was getting, and what work she’s most proud of.

“My proudest accomplishment thus far is selling one of my pieces to Whoopi Goldberg, in June 2018 at a group show I was part of curated and hosted by ‘Hello Tittie’,” Kiarra revealed.

Selling art to Whoopi Goldberg. Casual.

“As for favorite piece, I feel like that changes every few months as I grow as an artist and give more of myself to my work.”

Paintings by Kiarra Elliot / Afrocentric Keyy

We see you and we’re inspired by you, Kiarra. Committing to art that is both visually engaging and environmentally friendly is no small feat, but you’re inspiring us all.


Stay connected and check out more of Kiarra’s work below!

About the author

I was born to two Ethiopian immigrants in the great city of Indianapolis, Indiana, and moved to Brooklyn, New York after graduating from Indiana University in 2016. I currently spend my days as an Associate Creative at BuzzFeed, writing posts and directing videos and photo shoots for tech + finance brands and nonprofits.

I identify as a storyteller; someone who helps others find and amplify their voices, works to connect people to one another, and helps make a rapidly shifting media landscape more educational, inclusive, and representative of the world we live in. I’m passionate about sharing Black stories, and I’m so excited to show the world how deeply, dynamically talented we are, in every corner of the diaspora!

In my free time, you can find me reading, people watching in Bed-Stuy cafes, or watching old Vines (RIP).

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