Skin in the game

‘Words of wisdom,’ aroma therapy and massage put seniors in the picture

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Before they were business partners, they were just two artists who happened to fall in love at an art exhibit in White Plains. 

Fast forward four years later, Evan Bishop and Katori Walker have proven that art is not limited to paper or canvas, but instead can be used to evoke change through many media. 

They first touched Riverdale with their ‘100 Words of Wisdom’ series last year when Bishop offered senior citizens a chance to choose words to be painted on their bodies.

“The elders who receive body art, they really enjoy it, as well as the (brush) massage,” Walker said. “Our goal is to be serving, and this is a compassionate kind of work.”

A former long-time Riverdale resident, Bishop painted 14 of his older neighbors last year. Yet, the series is far from over as they continue their journey across New York City with Riverdale as their first stop.

Before the series, Walker gave Bishop all the body art practice he wanted by offering her own body as his canvas.

“That’s just a perk of having a beautiful girlfriend that would let you draw on her like that,” Bishop said. “One time we spent like seven hours. I never had a human willing to let me paint and practice on them, and when I met her, not only did she become my canvas, but I could paint more than the average body paint artist.”

Part of what sets the artistic Pisces duo apart from other body painters is their use of skin-safe paint and the extreme focus there is to the body’s “energy” and condition before Bishop begins to draw on it. Their practice of both massage and paint is called the 320 Body Art Experience, separate from the 100 Words exhibit.

“I love touching people and making them feel better, and when I just started and I saw people that looked tense, I was like, ‘Can I give you a neck massage?’” Walker said.  “Crystals, shells and guided meditation becomes a part of it, too, and to see it open people up is magical. 

“When he was doing the body art, I just had this feeling and some of it comes from a very spiritual place.”

Walker’s art focuses on children. Her work, “Katori Kids,” creates bright illustrations that can illuminate spaces of sadness or anxiety — like doctors offices, libraries or burn units. A lot of her work is vivid, bold but simple, and meant to engage. 

However, Walker is also a licensed esthetician — someone who performs skin care treatments on clients. 

“She is always looking at the body that we have, and we will not paint on someone with open sores or rashes,” Bishop said. “She prepares the skin for me.”

The couple works on a range of people from Brooklyn to Yonkers. They also have done work with youth centers and domestic violence victims.

Bishop attended RiverFest last June, connecting with a number of artists he and Walker hope to work with in the future. He also happened to run into one of his old teachers.

“We now have all these people and places that we can go to that allows us to go to Riverdale which would be more effective,” Bishop said.

Walker and Bishop not only share a love story but a progressing business based on art, positivity and well-being. Although they have no classes in Riverdale, they’ll teach art classes for children and host paint parties for adults in Yonkers starting this month.

“We are excited about what we will offer to Riverdale and beyond,” Bishop said. “There is so much that we want to do. We want to use our talents in a way to empower communities.” 

CORRECTION: A story about aroma therapy and massage involving Evan Bishop and Katori Walker, which appeared in the July 19 issue, had several issues that required clarification or correction.

• Bishop is a former long-time Riverdale resident who now resides in Yonkers.

• The practice of using aroma therapy and massage with art is specific to the business both Bishop and Walker run, and is separate from a recent exhibit known as “The 100 Words of Wisdom.” A quote that referred to a “massage” by Walker as part of the exhibit referred specifically to the touch of the paintbrush.

• A licensed esthetician is someone who performs skin care treatments on clients.

• While Bishop and Walker’s aroma therapy, guided meditation and massage is geared exclusively for adults, the couple have painted children at health fairs, community events and parties.

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