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Kuumba Means ‘Creativity’: Shyvon Paul

A nurse practitioner uses creativity to heal and rebuild and to be a part of something larger than herself
Artist Shyvon Paul in her home studio. Photo: Christopher Edwards for the BK Reader.

On Saturday December 31, the sixth day of Kwanzaa, observers honor the sixth principle, Kuumba which means creativity.

Kuumba is the commitment to being creative within the context of the national community vocation of restoring our people to their traditional greatness and thus leaving our community more beneficial and beautiful than we inherited it. The principle has both a social and spiritual dimension and is deeply rooted in social and sacred teachings of African societies.

Kuumba: “To do always as much as we can in the way that we can in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than when we inherited it.”

For Brooklyn nurse practitioner and artist Shyvon Paul, creativity is another way to make a difference.  Growing up, Paul always had a love and appreciation of art but never considered taking it seriously until she took a ceramics class while studying to become a nurse practitioner. 

Though she remains passionate about her job in healthcare, the pandemic has altered her perspective on the profession and on healing.

“I think it’s time that people rebuild,” Paul said about post-pandemic life and why she has chosen to prioritize making art.

“If you’re young, if you’re old, you know, it’s time to rebuild and kind of take back our lives. And so, I wanted to focus more on this thing that brings me so much joy.”

Paul’s body of work consists of mixed media, oil paintings, and drawings of exaggerated wildlife. She sells her work online through her website

Read this story on BK Reader about Shyvon Paul and her creativity practice.

Let's begin to think of ways we can harness our creativity and make it productive through Kuumba!

Beginning on Monday, Dec. 26, and for the seven days of Kwanzaa, BK Reader will feature a different local resident or organization that exemplifies one of the seven principles!