“My art practice can be called Ayrah Taerb.”
That’s how our conversation with artist and kung fu practitioner Ase begins. Ase is an multi-disciplinary artist whom you will most likely find in our Kung Fu workshops led by Program Coordinator Julian Diego.
But when Ase talks about Ayrah Taerb, you can sense that this is more than just his art or art practice, it’s a way of life.
“The meaning of Ayrah Taerb is universal; I can’t tie it to any language,” he says, “For me, if I had to attach it to a firm meaning, I would say that it is the artist in all of us. I want people to know that Ayrah Taerb is a way of doing things that’s in line with a way of being, that is as universal and objective as possible.”
Ase in one of our weekly kung fu sessions
Ase found out about SKETCH when Program Coordinator Julian Diego ran kung fu workshops at The Watah Theatre, founded by world-renowned artist d.bi young anitafrika. It was this life-altering experience that made him realize that kung fu was something he wanted to do for the rest of his life. “It’s been very transformative, eye-opening and an opportunity to see things for what they are,” he says, “Julian has said multiple times that his goal is to have people to come in, work out with him for an hour or two, and leave feeling better than they did when they got there. To be supported and encouraged to maintain that practice on my own has been a great balance for me.”
Ase spent six years building and refining his artist identity but he quickly realized that process would prove to be counterintuitive for him. “In creating something, you just create something that is what it is, regardless of your identity.”
You won’t find the meaning of Ayrah Taerb online or in a book. Instead of a definition, for Ase, Ayrah Taerb is the artist that’s created when all artists come together on stage. “It’s what happens when the bass player feels what the keys player is doing, and the keys player feels what the guitarist is doing,” he explains, “This comes from them coming together and understanding each other’s context. It’s a culmination of perspectives, experiences, and people … it’s kinda how culture is born.”
This way of life and practice is everything to him. “My name is Ase – I don’t even associate that with my art practice though,” he tells us, “If I open my mouth to record a song, it’s not Ase. It’s Ayrah Taerb coming through Ase. No one says ‘I am alive because of my veins,’ they say ‘I am alive because of the blood in my veins’ – that’s how I look at it.”
In his creative process, which he describes as a “kick in the butt from someone,” Ase draws his support and motivation from folks like d.bi, Julian, his partner Shen and BAR Institute founder, hip hop drummer and composer Donny Milwalkee.
For him, however, Ayrah Taerb is the biggest inspiration. “Art has transformed my life through allowing me to realize if you aren’t expressing yourself, it’s very easy to neglect the study of one’s self,” he says, “Surrender is another important thing. Art is the thing that keeps me looking, searching and unearthing new things about myself, and then by virtue of that pushing me to act on it to become the person that I am.”
-By Jonsaba Jabbi, Communications
Photo credits: Jessica Cho & Ase