I have been living a time of changes, choices and new paths. This new moment has also brought some new people, and I have been observing a pattern in dialogues. I find it curious how conversations always start engaging in the same way – through either part:
What do you do?
I always asked myself what that really meant. Are we talking about work? About believes? Where we are from and to where we are going? What do you during your free time? What do you like to do? What inspires you? What moves you?
In the end, what we really want to know is a bit of everything, isn’t it?
Who are you?
Well, let’s talk a bit about me than.
“I am known as kaju
and I live [from] my art.
Every day and in
Every possible way.”
This has been my answer and I usually leave it open to interpretations or discussions. I usually engage in the conversation through the path the person shows more interest in. It goes on, about all the other sides of each person, from the past, to the present and the future. Vision and action. Too vague? Maybe a little, but this is how I usually see and feel in every conversation. There is no formula, there is no right or wrong – each person connects to other layers – and I am always open to that. The way we present ourselves is far more than the simple label of a profession, a relationship status or a seat in your firm. We are more. We are plural.
Cool kaju, but can you tell us a bit more about yourself?
My name is Kalina Juzwiak, and when I decided to live from my art – or to be true to my art of living – i decided to follow my heart, to listen to what actually moves me, what makes my blood run faster through my veins – and that is when “kaju” was born. I gave a name to my artistic side, to that person who wakes every day with the energy to leave a positive mark in people’s lives. The expressive and emotional side. The young, wild and free spirit. And you might ask yourself, what about Kalina – what happened to her? This side represents the feet on the ground, the head in the clouds. Seeking to be open, to embrace the vulnerability, the sensitivity, to develop and evolve. Always dreaming, but never asleep.
Do you live two lives? Does that mean you are two people? Not exactly. I believe all of us have a duality inside of us, which we could call emotional and rational, the right and left hemisphere in our brains, the intro and the extrovert, the social and reserved. I just felt like giving a name to my sides. Kalina and kaju are one – they are the reminder to balance, to movement, to my own daily transformation. I am what I am, after all paths that lead me to here and now. We are one, we live as one, and we live our art.
Let’s dig a bit deeper.
I was born and raised in between nature and concrete. Santos is my place of birth, but I soon moved to São Paulo, where I grew up most part of my life – till now. Nature was always part of my weekends – mountains or the ocean – with my family and practicing outdoor sports. A multicultural family helped me to develop and have the contact to different cultures and languages. My parents always gave us (my sisters and I) the incentive to develop our creativity. Our trip diaries where sketchbooks with no lines for us to draw our perceptions. We created games with what we had in our hands – instead of ready made toys. Tv was only allowed on the weekends, so we could actually create our entertainment with whatever we had in hands.
My parents told me I was a very open child – active, spontaneous, sensitive and affective. At some point I closed myself. I never found really out why – and maybe I don’t need to – but studies say that children might change personalities by the way they interpret situations. An overheard fight and context that was misunderstood. Today I feel that at that point a bright flame was downgraded to a more reserved being. And at that point my rational side took over. A type of protection.
I guess we all have our little armours of everyday life and situations.
In this conflict of being an extremely sensitive person, but being perceived as serious and rational, caused me to have to find an escape valve to balance this duality. A way I could express myself without filters. To find love. To be vulnerable. Be the flame. In my search I found creativity within me. My art.
Life was going on, and when I had to choose a career, I found Architecture and Urbanism as a possibility. Classes, projects and jobs. From internships, to creations in my own studio. Paths of exploration and knowledge. Some things went great, others not so much. I fell, I got up, I hit walls and found doors, I looked for alternatives, I fought with bosses, I led teams and I was my own boss. There was a constant internal struggle to try creating something innovative inside this molded society. Till the moment I discovered that I was my own mold, that I was the one actually creating my own limitations. But regardless of obstacles and personal fears, there was always the latent desire to evolve. In everything I’ve put myself to do, I gave my best. I became the head, the driver, the motivator, and the team. I developed, organized, and dedicated myself with respect and discipline. I have won prizes and honorable mentions, from school, to college, to projects and jobs. But somehow it never seemed to really satisfy me. Or rather, it didn’t really bring my the sense of fulfillment. I could not really celebrate, I was ashamed to go on a stage, to speak in front of so many, to talk about me. “Who am I really and what do I have to say to these people?” was something that was always in the back of my mind.
And in the background there was always that little Kalina who had the will to deconstruct the system and build something unique, to be able to express everything that moved and fed my soul. That immense force of being able to be plural. Of not only liking one thing, of knowing how to use positive and negative skills in favor of a purpose. Of being able to be a multi-disciplinary being, vulnerable and accessible as a whole. Gradually, an ambition, an energy, a force that screamed from within my molds – from inside my own armour.
Head and tummy aches, tiredness, moodiness, fatigue, stress. And without being able to assume, without being able to stop, it continued in a vicious cycle of work, dedication and fulfillment. A natural leader who did not know how to embrace my own charisma and trust. I projected authority often in a negative and even harmful way. A trip abroad, with a cousin, was the trigger for the body to manifest itself with the unhappiness of the moment. In the midst of a visit to the Gardens of the Château de Versailles, I had to sit on the floor, with unexplained abdominal pain. I could not walk with my head held high. I leaned forward and leaned on my cousin until I reached the train station. Gradually I felt better. Till the next episode. Another one. And another one. Pain. Warnings. The body asked for attention. The mind asked for it too. And I refused to listen to the real Kalina – the intuition we all have inside us.
My body – and my mind – were inflamed. It was time to change. It was time to take off that armour. To detoxify the soul. To re-ascend the flame. From looking in the mirror and accepting, hugging, taking over the woman I saw in front of me.
I moved to Switzerland with money I saved from the experience of having my own architecture studio. I spent a few months away, but I left myself open to the story of living of my art and being able to explore another culture. I thought that if I survived from art well in a more distant country – where I had some contacts, and even a sister – I could go back to my habitat and overflow this desire And this is what happened.
Switzerland an important step to my personal growth, to my relationship with my family, to the deconstruction of a shyness still somewhat entrenched. The strength to be autonomous. To be a creative entrepreneur. To be a disciplined creative. To add some more tools to my toolbox, I eventually graduated in Graphic Design, which gave me another vision and opened other doors for opportunities and compositions. A daily routine of constant construction, feeding from an almost inexhaustible source of creation. Since then I have been venturing into projects of different sizes, scopes and impact, using creativity as the main too. I like to say it’s one of my superpowers. And today I say that I am an artist with a systemic view. People and companies choose me to turn their visions into reality and to create disruptive projects and experiences.
I learned, and continue to learn every day, to let go of my own molds, to cultivate my seeds, my relationships, my wants, my heart. What is mine? What did I pick up from others? Who I am truly? What do I want to achieve? What are my dreams? What is in my power to make them happen? Questions that have become a daily exercise.
“Allow yourself to be curious, take care of yourself, surround yourself with people who add, who teach you, who add up. Follow your instinct, choose your battles, and choose, with determination, focus, productivity and humility. And then celebrate every achievement! “
Today I know that it is the balance between all the parties involved in a system, which makes it harmonic. I value my own company more than any other. And oh! the silence. That one that is only interrupted by breathing, by birds, by the organic happening of a natural moving environment. I can sit there alone for hours, and just watch and feel it. The peace of being with myself. Kalina and the kaju are one, living in balance. And evolving every day.
AND WHO ARE YOU?