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I am an artist and designer based out of the Pacific Northwest. I help bring imaginary worlds to life with an enthusiastic commitment to theatrical design and visual storytelling. My past work includes giant puppets, imaginative props, lighting design, scenic design, and painting.
I am interested in the intersection of environmental justice and storytelling. My creative partner, DJ Biersack and myself, are co-founders of DYADIC STUDIOS: a consultation company focused on making sustainable change in the fast fashion and consumer industry. Officially launched as of December 25th 2020, our goal in creating Dyadic Studios is to partner with established clothing brands to educate and institute more sustainable production practices. As Chief Design
Officer, I am responsible for finding visually engaging ways to connect with both our audience and our client's platform through impactful and compelling stories about the environment.
Currently, I am a senior at the University of Portland studying Theatrical Design, Fine Arts, and Hellenic Studies. My goal is to attend graduate school and pursue an MFA in theater and film design. I love collaboration and am looking forward to bringing my skills to the next level. You can check out my work HERE, and if you like what you see, just imagine the possibilities!
- Kat Yo
Dyadic Studios Preview
My Commitment to Social Justice as an Artist and Designer
Spring break my junior year of college, March 2019, I had the amazing opportunity to go on the inaugural, week long Environmental Justice Immersion with the Moreau Center. I was one of ten, hand selected students, and the only arts major in a sea of environmental science majors, chosen to participate on an educational trip exploring environmental justice issues directly affecting the city of Portland and the Columbia River Gorge. During our trip, we met with eleven different organizations dedicated to combating climate change including APANO (Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon) and CRITFC (Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commision). The people I met and stories I heard on this trip were the first sparks to ignite my fire and restless drive for climate justice. Featured in Portland Magazine, you can check out our work in the video below:
The most meaningful experience I had on this trip happened at the Celilo Village longhouse, a sacred gathering area for four of the native tribes in the Columbia River Gorge. There, we met with the Chief of Celilo Village, also the leader of the Yakama tribe, Bobby Begay and his family. They all greeted us from a distance, or bumped elbows instead of the typical handshake. Bobby explained how their history, culture, and faith were being threatened by COVID-19. If one person from the tribe became sick and spread the virus, it could wipe out their people, along with the entirety of their oral tradition. Without people to pass on their stories, culture, and way of life, their legacy dies with them.
The night went on as Chief and his family shared their history, their salmon, and their dreams for the future with us in the hopes we would use that information to make change for the next generation. As they shared their food, it reminded me of my family's Korean traditions and the way we come together over a meal. I walked out of the longhouse reflecting on our time spent with Bobby and his drive to educate others about the Yakama people and his passion for tribal advocacy of the environment. His words inspired me to make a deeper commitment to environmental justice, not only for its intrinsic value, but the people that rely on a healthy environment for so much more than a pretty view.
A week after the end of my Environmental Justice Immersion, COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic and everything changed in a matter of 48 hours. Life is full of unexpected twists and turns, and a month after the beginning of quarantine, life took another unexpected turn. I received an email from my program coordinator with news that Bobby Begay tragically passed away on April 26th after complications of the Corona virus. I was heartbroken for Bobby's family, his tribe, and all the people his life touched, including my own.
One of my biggest takeaways from the immersion and the events that followed is that environmental justice is every person's responsibility because it affects all people. Climate change often affects the most vulnerable populations, closely intertwining it with other social justice problems, like racial and housing inequality. In order to care for people, we also need to care for our home. I believe it is our job as artists, designers, and most of all storytellers to amplify the voices of those who often go silenced in our society. It is their stories that need telling the most to bring awareness to the experiences of our fellow human being, and to make impactful, lasting change for those who need it most. Bobby was an activist for the fish, the rivers, and the land that his people needed to survive. Telling Bobby's story immortalizes him outside oral tradition and brings awareness to the Yakama tribe's fight for a healthy environment. In telling his story alongside so many others who have not been given a voice, I commit my life to people; and I will use my strengths, privilege, and education for the benefit of others.
Learn more about Bobby and his story HERE.
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