Meet Kyle: The Man Behind the Art

August 18, 2011 / Aaron


On the significance of dots and other tiny things:

""What would happen if a plane dropped you in the middle of the Sahara Desert and you picked up a single grain of sand... and moved it one millimeter?"... I said, "I dunno, what?" [Dad] said, "Think about it." I thought about it. "I guess I would have moved a grain of sand." "Which would mean?" "Which would mean I moved a grain of sand?" "Which would mean you changed the Sahara." "So?" "So? So the Sahara is a vast desert. And it has existed for millions of years. And you changed it!... If you hadn't done it, human history would have been one way..." "Uh huh?" "But you did do it, so...?" I stood on the bed, pointed my fingers at the fake stars, and screamed: "I changed the course of human history!""       -- From Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer


By now, you've all seen them: the striking pointillist pieces adorning the walls of Yoga Belly. The prayer hands, the rippling abdomens, and my personal favorite, the hands in pockets. The first time I saw them, I didn't realize they were entirely composed of dots: I just saw them and thought, "Whoa." But then I looked more closely, and recognized the painstaking craft and care behind each image, and the way the artist combined something as simple and unremarkable as a dot into a compelling, arresting visual experience. One seemingly insignificant dot plays an important role in the overall composition... such an apt metaphor, especially in a yoga studio.

For those of you who haven't read the bio, Kyle Taylor is the man behind the art. You'll find him in the studio on Wednesday nights, getting his Warrior 2 on with Will and the YB family. He is largely self-taught: beyond a survey course in high school, he hasn't had any formal training. Coulda fooled me!

Kyle grew up in the midwest and now studies Cellular and Molecular Biology at Stanford University. His friend introduced him to yoga, and he relished the chance to get out of the lab and onto the mat. Since then, he has (no surprise!) fallen in love with the YB community, and yoga has increasingly informed his art (Hence, the Namaste hands).

When it comes to his art, Kyle is both a lover of challenge and a glutton for punishment. While explaining the inspiration behind his work, he says, "The hands on the 'Namaste' piece annoyed me, so I decided to do a piece that highlighted the parts that I didn't like - hands." While Kyle sometimes approaches his art with a dogged sense of determination (that no doubt bolsters his academic career), art also offers him an escape. Both art and yoga grant him a brief respite from the helter-skelter of life at Stanford, and a glimpse of possibility beyond Things We Can See and Things We Can Measure and Things We Can Explain. "[Art] helps me access my more emotional and irrational side," he says, "Something that I find incredibly challenging to do."

Art has also offered Kyle insight. Because it forces him to tune in to his intuition and emotions, it also helped him recognize and respect his sexuality. "This is basically how I came out to myself," he says, "and dealing with those issues is the motivation for this burst of artwork.  Long story short, I started with a couple of self-portraits.  I had always thought I'd wanted to be other guys, that I wasn't 'man' enough.  The self-portraits were a silent scream saying no I am man enough.  From there, I explored wanting to be with other guys, and then just wanting to connect with people instead of being (largely) alone."

So yes, Yoga Belly, meet Kyle. A fantastic artist, budding scientist, and humble yogi. The best part is, besides his obvious talents, he's so down to earth. When I asked him about his art and "aesthetic" (sorry, I'm a writer, I can't help it), he said, "Ma'am, I'm from rural Kansas, I'm not sure I've ever thought about my aesthetic." Well. How 'bout them apples.