Interview by Lauren Ash. Photography by Marcus Russell Price.
Self-proclaimed artist of love Katra Awad has an aura you can feel. With a colorful energy, manifested through her equally colorful jewelry, featuring stones and crystals and names like Calypsoul Nile and Valley of the Queen, she is clearly an artist with a desire to convey her artistry and ancestry as one. As an artist whose work celebrates her cultural heritage and ancestors, I knew I had to feature Katra as our Daymaker for our issue focused on Celebration! Be sure to follow Katra's Journey on Instagram @katraawad and check out her gorgeous jewelry at www.katraawad.com.
Lauren: You reside in Brooklyn, but your Instagram mostly conveys lush, green gardens with you gorgeously basking in them. Is nature related to self-care and wellness for you? Do you escape from the city often, or do you seek and discover greenery within it?
Katra: I tend to bounce back and forth between Brooklyn, Pennsylvania and California. Wherever I am, I often seek out nature. In California, I usually bask in the sunshine every morning. When I feel like I need to be closer to home, I escape to the local neighborhood gardens here in Brooklyn. It helps me stay grounded.
L: Ooh, a nomad, of sorts, who listens to her spirit. Very beautiful. Katra, you're an artist and jewelery seems to be one of your major crafts of choice. Your necklaces feature names of Egyptian gods and goddesses — on your site you share that the Pyramidion collection, in particular, celebrates and pays a tribute to your ancestors. Can you share a bit more with us about when you decided that you would illuminate your own cultural and, perhaps, spiritual beliefs through your art?
K: In the beginning I started as an artist of several mediums. When I began creating jewelry I was very inspired by all the great artifacts of the 18th Dynasty. Being that part of my heritage is Egyptian, I decided that I wanted my first collection to bring life to tangible pieces that were symbolic and could honor the past, present and future. I believe our ancestors play one of the most important roles in our existence today.
L: Absolutely! I’ve recently realized the importance of ancestry through one of our meditation series that invites the ancestors to communicate with us. It’s powerful. Alright, the focus of this month’s issue is Celebration. Do you feel as if it's important to celebrate the little things in life? If so, why? And how do you celebrate success and growth?
K: The little things are what make up this beautiful journey. We have been born with gifts to share and accomplishments to reach in such a limited time. Every evening I make it a point to find something that I am thankful for that day, whether it’s my first meal or my last interaction I’ve had with someone I love. I have an affirmation that I recite every morning. Honing my sense of gratitude daily is my way of celebrating.
L: Mind sharing your affirmation with us?
K: I learned this affirmation from my spiritual teacher and I've added things to it over the years. It begins with: "I am thankful for all that I am and all that I have, I am open to receiving all the abundance of opportunities that this life has to offer, I remove any blockages I may be feeling mentally, physically and spiritually." Before you start, close your eyes and visualize something beautiful. Take 3 deep breaths and take one breath after each sentence in between. It works wonders!
L: Beautiful, I'll have to try this, Katra. So, you had a unique upbringing. We all do, to varying degrees, but yours is special in that you were raised in various countries by two people who met serendipitously while traveling, as well. Did you notice cultural differences in the way that people celebrate life? If so, how?
K: My mother is Hispanic and my father is from Egypt; they met in Rome while traveling. Since my mother was a flight attendant for 17 years I got to travel to many places in Europe and the Caribbean. We traveled to Greece, stayed in Italy for several months and also lived in Mexico, where I went to school for a year. During a summer in Mexico, I remember often being surrounded by art, clothing and paintings in my aunt’s shop and gallery. I would spend the day with my cousin eating raspados, observing local vendors that would come in to sell their goods that they hand-crafted. Life is celebrated differently in many places all over the world. In Italy, people are very close and affectionate. Every meal always felt like a celebration, I love that about their culture.
L: Through your art, have you contributed to someone else's celebration or milestone in life?
K: Yes! I was recently invited to recite a short poem I wrote on the radio. It’s about a moment I experienced caring for my grandmother with my mother during the last few months in her home in California. It was a very personal and special time we had with her. I’m currently working on a selection of jewelry pieces that a stylist pulled for a new film currently in production.
L: Beautiful. You certainly have brought love and light into others’ lives through your art! I’m curious to know what you believe makes you unique — perhaps as a woman, person of color, or artist? How have you learned to embrace these unique qualities about yourself? Are these qualities celebrated now by those who surround you? Were they always celebrated?
K: I consider myself to be an artist of love. Someone that focuses on the good before anything else. Everything I work on has to have an intention, a purpose. I’ve always cared a great deal for humanity and I’ve had to learn to embrace that I’m a nurturer and creator by nature. I feel fortunate that my mother was extremely supportive of these qualities and she has always encouraged me to pursue them. I think it is really important to have a selective support system. The friends and family I choose to share with are very encouraging.
L: Thank you, Katra!