Dutchess County Executive's Arts Awards 2022
Bryan “Kicks Kapri” Ashong
Even over email, Bryan Ashong of Stackhouse Media radiates a certain zip in his step.
His sentences are quick and lively. His outlook is positive. His replies contain answers.
So you probably won’t be surprised to learn that Brian’s nickname is Kicks Kapri, which maintains its own kick in its step. And it may not come as any surprise that Kicks is the recipient of the 2022 Dutchess County Executive’s Arts Award for Artivist.
“I gave young rappers, singers, painters, DJs, photographers and videographers a space to network and create mutualistic relationships,” Kicks said. “I made possible the intersection of activism, art and community engagement in the city of Poughkeepsie. As a medical student, rapper, designer and visionary, I have and will continue to assist artists in their journey to self-discovery.”
As for receiving his award, Kicks said, “I was very surprised. Arts Mid-Hudson has supported me for years, as I hosted shows, released music, recorded visuals, and connected to my audience. To be given an award for something that I love to do is an honor. Thank you for considering me, I am eternally grateful.”
Kicks is the founder of Med Artiste, a group of medical professionals focused on healing through the arts. Kicks is also known for his event hosting and community service efforts, and he is an activist and organizer dedicated to socioeconomic equity for people of color. He owns a clothing brand simply named “Kapri,” and he runs a media and distribution company. That company, Stackhouse Media, creates spaces for lifestyle improvement and portrays positive ideals for black youth
And art is very important to Kicks Kapri.
“Art can serve as the olive branch between the left and the right, the dark and the light,” he said. “Art is the connection that we have with others, without saying a word. We are all in collective awe when we view the Pyramid of Giza or the Sistine Chapel. What is spiritual is not definable. This allows for an underlying sense of oneness.”
Kicks was drawn to the arts by, “Feeling the need to express myself. When I first began making music, I was just rhyming words. When I learned to speak life into music, I knew it was a sign from God to pursue this art form.”
And on a scale of 1 to 10, Kicks said his passion for the arts is a 26— which is also the day he was born in June of 1996.
“As I grow older, I realize more and more that my passion lies within creative pursuits,” he said. “My identity is intrinsically tied to making something out of nothing.”
Kicks enjoys the visual arts on display in Hudson Valley public spaces. In particular, he finds murals in Poughkeepsie, Newburgh and Beacon to be especially compelling.
“The public display of art allows community members to feel like they are a part of a greater vision,” he said.
And then there is the relationship that Kicks enjoys with music.
“Music was there for me when nobody else was,” he said.
And what advice does Kicks have for emerging artists?
“Tell the truth—there is a difference between your truth and THE truth,” he said. “Artistic expression allows us to voice our truths, but we have an obligation to the universe to tell it like it is. Speak on behalf of humanity.”