Home to a creative arts community, the City of York continues to be strengthened by the energy and innovation of its youth — individuals who are championing the development of a creative class that extends from downtown York into York County. Through their work, these emerging artists represent a new generation propelling York’s arts and culture forward.
This spring, YRK set out to discover this youthful talent for ourselves through auditions aimed to highlight these next-generation artists of York. We met dozens of people, heard many stories and listened to, held and viewed works representing almost every form of artistic media possible. Below we present the profiles of three emerging artists whom we selected from among all of our audition participants. Their stories are one of individuals who are beginning to forge their own paths and gain early attention for their work in the arts.
Leah Limpert Walt
Areas of Interest: Painting, Printmaking, 3-D Art
Through the media of oil and canvas, Leah Limpert Walt creates imagery that evokes a subtle narrative quality, what she calls “a spiritual memory,” in the minds of those who encounter her art. Reflecting a Renaissance-style technique of indirect painting, her work emulates life — layers built upon layers “giving the pieces an innate luminosity and sense of turning form,” she describes.
Looking at her artwork, you may be tempted to think she’s been a lifelong oil painter, but she confesses that it wasn’t until she was only two years out of high school that she discovered a natural connection to the medium through an oil-painting class.
Since then, Limpert Walt has also immersed herself in the work of art through printmaking and 3-D art. But her largest artistic accomplishment, she says, has been pursuing her Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree at the Pennsylvania College of Art and Design in Lancaster.
“The education I’ve been lucky enough to receive has heightened my work exponentially,” she says. “The variety of perspectives that have contributed to my education has enriched my knowledge, my work and my own interest in teaching. It wasn’t easy to make the decision to go back to school, considering there’s almost a decade between my peers and me, but I am continually grateful for them and their feedback.”
As an active member of the York arts community over the last seven years, Limpert Walt has had her work featured in art exhibitions through The Parliament Arts Organization, Creative York, Harrisburg Area Community College, Zoetropolis and Prince Street Cafe. She was also a recipient of the Visionary Woman Honor’s Program Scholarship in 2015 from Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia.
Being part of York’s artist community, she says, has been instrumental for her professional development, and she hopes to continue to get involved in more community art projects. “York invests in the talents and innovations of the people here. The supportiveness of the community when you reach out for it is one-of-a-kind.”
Areas of Interest: Jazz, Pop, Rock, Rhythm & Blues Music Composition
The moment you find your voice in the arts is the moment you discover you’re capable of achieving anything. For 18-year-old Jason Wilson-Kageni, this statement strikes a chord for this emerging young professional musician.
Afflicted with autism from birth, he recalls many difficult years working with speech therapists who tried to help him form sentences in his speech. “What they didn’t know,” he says, “is that I may not have been able to form words, but music was my saving grace.”
After discovering his mother’s jazz, gospel and rhythm and blues CD collection at age 6, Wilson-Kageni began experimenting with musical compositions on a toy keyboard at his home. For his 10th birthday, he received a Casio keyboard gift from his mother that further fueled his work in music composition, culminating in the creation of his first single “Strong Enough,” where he addresses the challenges of living with autism. Last year, in his York hometown, Wilson-Kageni also released a collection of original compositions on a five-track EP and created a video that documents his reflections of life with autism.
Music, he says, helped him overcome challenges placed before him, and it was music that ultimately opened the door to his enrollment at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia starting this fall. Through his music, he hopes to become the voice of encouragement to people facing challenges that inhibit their dreams.
York, he adds, has been instrumental in helping him explore his musical gifts. “York has been the place where I have been able to grow,” he says, noting the opportunities he’s had to perform for Equality Fest, First Friday events and at The Handsome Cab.
“I hope to create beautiful music that will inspire anyone who has ever doubted themselves,” he says. “I want to become a successful music entertainer and travel the world to share my music. I eventually want to become a teacher to encourage other young children with autism to follow their dreams.”
Facebook: Jason Kageni-Williams
YouTube: Jason K
Areas of Interest: Painting, Photography
Anyone who tells you that the arts can’t earn you a living never met Brady Pappas. His master work behind the lens has earned him prestigious placements in sources such as Creativ Magazine, Sheeba Magazine and promotional material developed for the PGA Tour. With a well-trained eye for developing evocative fashion and
themed photographic work, as well as his uncompromising character of his visual work on canvas, Pappas has had opportunities to work with some of the leading creative agencies in New York City. But it’s the evolutionary spirit of the City of York, he says, that continually delivers the “inspiration, support and kindness” that continue to stoke his creativity.
“I’m constantly discovering new things,” he says. “The people I’ve met downtown alone have helped shape me and my career in ways I will never be able to describe. What makes my heart full is the people here at home. For me, nothing is better tan knowing you’ve inspired someone to pick up a paintbrush, go out of their comfort zone to create or just make an impact in general.”
Pappas, a York Suburban High School alum, says that while he yearns to break further into the fashion scene and shoot for major modeling agencies and brands, his long-term goal is to create avenues to give back through the arts.
“I’m very passionate about teens in the world who have no creative outlet. I don’t think anyone realizes how much the arts can shape a person,” he says. “I want to eventually start a nonprofit where I can create warehouse-type buildings stocked full of unlimited art supplies in every medium for kids to go and create. I want them to have the freedom where they can spray paint legally, build what they please and even destroy whatever their hearts desire. I just want to inspire other creators and let them know that anything is possible no matter where you come from, how much money you have or where you’ve been!”
Story by Michael Vyskocil
Photography by Eric Forberger
YRK Digital Features
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