🗣 Locals to Know: Meet DS Kinsel, artist, agitator and family man

DS Kinsel, a skinny Black man with long dreadlocks, stands near a graffitied wall.

This morning’s interviewee is an artist, community organizer, activist and then some who co-founded BOOM Concepts and has shown his art everywhere from the streets of our city to the Westmoreland Museum of American Art. In addition to making vivid multimedia art, he funds other creatives and holds the powers that be accountable. Meet DS Kinsel, one of the most compelling players of the Pittsburgh art game. FYI, a couple swear words lie ahead.

Tell us a little about the many hats you wear.

Artist, father, husband, cultural agitator — I work at BOOM Concepts. I work for my own artistic practice. I work with the community and for my family.

Wax poetic for a second and tell us: what brings you most alive about this city?

What brings me most alive is the adventures I have had and am able to have here. Being able to grow with colleagues, friends, and patrons has provided a strong foundation for me to be able to lean into a joy-centered practice. My family and I are re-exploring a city where our bloodline has been for over 100 years, but there are four new eyes to experience it (my children), [and that’s] given me a totally new life in Pittsburgh. I visit places that I’ve been many times before — especially places in nature or museums — and it’s a completely new adventure through the life of my children. 

Responding to the constant stress and stressors of Pittsburgh with my own agitation is part of what keeps me alive in defense of the bullshit and flagrant jagoffs.

What’s your favorite Pittsburgh memory?

My favorite Pittsburgh memory is thinking back to the Good Time Charlie ice cream truck, Kennard Basketball Games, and a summer camp called NYSP.

Old Skool Pittsburgh folks know what I’m talking about.

If you could eat at one local restaurant for the rest of your life, which would it be?

Casa Brasil.

Outside of the obvious stop above, share your other top three destinations for where you’d go on your perfect Pittsburgh day.

BOOM Concepts, The Button, Apteka

What’s your favorite local social media account (Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, or etc.) to follow and why?

That fake Billy P Mayor bot on Twitter be spewing jumbled soup, and man it be getting me some times.  That shit is funny.

If you could give any one piece of advice to locals, what would it be?

Respect what works.

Two mixed-media figures with balloons for heads.
Two of DS’s recent mixed-media works (photos courtesy of the artist)

How does Pittsburgh help you do what you do/influence your work?

Pittsburgh’s isolation and small size in comparison with other markets allows me to study, investigate and concentrate on creating strong work. My long family history and personal work on the ground across sectors within grassroots spaces gives me a vast yinzer database of information, institutional histories, and nebby news. All of this helps me navigate and create within the local market.

What’s an unpopular opinion you have about the city?

Follow my Twitter for a live stream about all of my unpopular opinions: @dskinsel

What are you most looking forward to this year?

I look forward to every day individually and am gracious for waking up. Everything brings its own challenges and rewards. I look forward to leaning into joy and into my family and children. I look forward to seeing more Black folks in this region and specifically in the city of Pittsburgh winning and gaining reward.

You can find BOOM Concepts at boomuniverse.co or on social media and follow DS’s work on Twitter and Instagram at @DSKinsel

Know of a person or organization that we ought to feature? Email hello@theincline.com with your suggestion and “Locals to Know” in the subject line, and you could see their name in an upcoming newsletter!