Kesa Kivel is a Los Angeles-based artist as well as an educator and activist engaged in social justice issues, especially those concerning girls and women. Since 2003 she has volunteered to teach feminist issues to middle school girls, offering a broad-based curriculum in an interactive format. The Girl House Art Project, which was inspired by Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro’s 1972 “Womanhouse” art installation, was completed in 2006.
Her latest “big” YWCA project, Underground Railroad: Ama’s Journey to Freedom (2010), involved 34 middle school girls. The girls were challenged to imagine what slavery might have felt like to one African girl, and then to link slavery in the past with racism today. Kesa is now working on a film about the project.
Prior to teaching a feminist arts curriculum, Kesa taught poetry to foster teens in a residential facility, as well as to youth incarcerated in juvenile halls and at a probation camp. In 2000 Kesa received the “Operation Read Award” in recognition of her outstanding service in support of education and literacy for probation youth.
For over a decade Kesa has worked with Families to Amend California Three Strikes (FACTS), a non-profit dedicated to changing the unjust Three Strikes law. In 2002 she received the “Friends of FACTS” award.
Kesa has worked as a social worker in London, and lived for three years in Asia.