Artist Ryan Bradley Witham stands under one of his palm leaf sculptures in a park. (Photo courtesy of Ryan Bradley Witham)
Glen A. Wilson High School

Cypress artist empowers youth through palm leaf art

Ryan Bradley Witham is a resident of Cypress, Calif. who uses artwork to help educate communities across the nation. Witham is often referred to as “brokenArgyle,” the username on his social media accounts.

“With brokenArgyle, nobody has to be alone again… or outcast… or set aside… or dismissed… or not heard”

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Witham uses a variety of tools and materials to complete his pieces. (Photo courtesy of Ryan Bradley Witham)

His ultimate mission is to “unite the world through music and technology.”

An alumnus of Glen A. Wilson High School, Witham hopes to use his platform to encourage the youth in his community.

“We have to get kids the opportunity to be able to understand life on their own terms,” Witham said.

Indeed, he has hosted various art meet-ups in which he encourages adults and children alike to embrace creativity and music.

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Local kids in Ryan Bradley Witham’s community learn how to draw mushrooms on palm leaves. (Photo courtesy of Ryan Bradley Witham)

“I think mother nature is taking [creativity] away from us,” Witham said. “By taking things and finding out how they come together, kids will be more inspired to do creative things in life.”

Moreover, Witham utilizes a variety of discarded materials, ranging from palm leaves to soda cans and car bumpers for his projects.

“The palm shells were chosen because they represent the fallen,” Witham said. “We need to take better care of those who need a little bit [of] extra help and that is what brokenArgyle is going to do.”

Looking closely, Witham’s artwork is all over the city. His designs range from abstract polka dots on tree trunks to a purple palm leaf propped up against a fence to commemorate Kobe Bryant. Witham has also embarked on bigger projects, such as the one found at the peak of Schabarum Park using nails.

“Everything we put in the ground, should look like it came up from the ground,” Witham said in a message. “The way to stop graffiti is to make every wall a wall of art done by a local artist and invite their artwork.”

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Witham’s colorful pieces vary in design.(Photo courtesy of Ryan Bradley Witham)

At first, Witham’s artwork may seem unassuming. However, the modest nature of his palm-leaf pieces is the epitome of Witham’s mission.

“Change always starts on the bottom, and it is going to start with our youth,” Witham said.

Outlined in an IGTV video on his Instagram page, are what Witham considers to be the functions of his #WalkAsOneMovement. A specific few being “on the grid off the grid,” “bill of ryt,” “leyefe (life)” and “dignity health music.”

“My motivation is all about automating the mundane portions of our life, [so] we have more time to do things that we love or be with people we love,” Witham said. “Technology is like mother nature in a way, because it will never stop progressing.”

Further detailed in the video is an explanation following the “proof of leyefe.”

Spinning off of the common phrase “proof of life,” Witham envisions a future where the world is synchronized at one point in time to “play one song with any instrument in any language to show that our differences don’t divide us, they unite us.”

This unity is further implemented within Witham’s approach to the homeless crisis in California. Working with a shipping company, he has bought around a thousand socks to give to the homeless to raise awareness of the issue. Witham also suggests using compassionate support animals from the pound as a solution.

“The issue with homelessness is that they need to be rehabilitated back into society,” Witham said. “I don’t believe we have a mental health problem, I believe we have an acceptance problem.”

All of his visions are directed towards creating a global Network of Empowered Youth (NEY) by taking advantage of technology and raising awareness of its potential.

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(Photo courtesy of Ryan Bradley Witham)

“Empathy is inversely proportional to ego,” Witham said. “It is not technology, it is us and I believe we [can] fix that by building the NEY across Hacienda Heights and then the nation.”

Nevertheless, Witham concedes that his mission can be taken in the wrong light with some people.

“They think I am just the doofball who peed in sinks in college and got drunk all the time,” Witham said. “I understand how my intentions can be mistaken.”

Whether people agree with his message or not, Witham is continuing to spread awareness of the many issues that he feels should be solved.

Currently, Witham is planning on finishing a walk across the United States on March 1st then returning back to the city on June 19th. He encourages supporters, families and friends to walk the last three miles with him to show how a community can come together.

Thus, the next time you see an unassuming palm shell on the ground, look for its potential in changing the world. Or better yet, take heed of Witham’s message and feel empowered to change the world yourself.