From an early age, Joy knew she had a gift for writing and storytelling. Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Joy grew up in the church where she felt compelled to hide who she really was.
“I feel like I threw myself away at a young age,” Joy said. “Growing up, I didn’t have the space to be myself. And so I threw myself away. And I felt like I deserved it, because that’s what I was taught.
So her diary became her best friend, she says. “I realized I was pretty good with the pen at a young age.” But after being discouraged from pursuing a career in gospel singing, Joy began performing her poetry in her early twenties.
Now she uses her art to heal past traumas and she hopes her time at DAM will inspire the same in others.
“I felt like all I was trying to do was healing work,” she said. “I want people to be introspective, reflective and hopefully…heal ourselves.”
Joy is the first Creative-in-Residence to use DAM’s new Creative Hub in the recently renovated Martin building. A space for learning and engagement, the Creative Hub provides a welcoming and creative environment for museum visitors to gather before or after exploring exhibits, exchange ideas with Creatives-in-Residence, and participate in creative exercises.
“The Creative Hub really started with this meeting of the community, stakeholders, partners and local creatives,” said Sierra Tamkun, creative and public engagement manager at DAM. “How do we create a space that’s for the creative community and where we can bring them together, where they can come together, where we can really welcome people and create their experience, not just our visitors, but for the creatives who make Denver so wonderful?
Through workshops, events and hands-on activities, the Creative Hub provides a distinct outlet where visitors can explore their own creativity. According to Tamkun, the entire space, which was designed by artists Moe Gram and Frankie Toanis divided into four different activities: inspiration, experimentation, reflection and “a space where visitors can shred their expectations of what it means to be creative and let go of whatever is holding them back”.
Throughout her residency, Joy wanders around the Creative Hub, where she will interact with visitors during her office hours on Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Thursdays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
“Right now I feel like we’re finishing the planning phase and now we’re really going to get into, you know, creating… like I’m going to get my hands dirty now,” said Joy, who hopes to have something to offer DAM visitors by June.
When not at DAM, Joy can be found all over Denver doing what she loves – centering the community and raising other black voices.
“Community is still just as we need our people,” she said. “So collaboration, connectivity, solidarity… that’s who I am. I think that’s what you’re going to see in everything I do.
As co-executive director of The Kaleidoscope Project, a nonprofit, Joy works to “activate collective power in black and brown communities through civic engagement, grassroots organizing and cultural strength,” she said. “Our culture has always been what got us through and helped redefine ourselves as black and brown people.”
She is also co-host of The SIP Podcastor Sisters in Power, a Denver-based monthly podcast that uplifts women of color.
“We’re all black women, all artists who are just trying to come together and amplify other black women,” Joy explained. “We interview women doing dope stuff, whatever their creative leanings.”
And since becoming a full-time poet in 2018, Joy finally feels like she’s living the dream she’s been yearning for.
“It took a long time to regain my self-esteem and regain this idea of who I know I always was and give myself permission to present myself as such without any excuses,” she said. . “I’m going to talk a lot about myself younger because I feel like I’m tapping into her…Baby Kerrie Joy, I’m living the life you deserve.”
Victoria Carodine is the Digital Content Producer for Rocky Mountain PBS. You can reach her at [email protected].
Jeremy Moore is a senior multimedia reporter at Rocky Mountain PBS. You can email him at [email protected].