Flex Member Feature: Patti Kain

We are lucky to have so many inspiring and active community members come through the doors every day. Patti Kain, a neighbourhood legend and Flex Studio member is one of these people. Having grown up in an artistic family, (her father is a children’s cartoonist) Patti was always encouraged to be involved in the arts. “I would consider myself in the Arts, to be a jack of all trades, a Master of none.” A trained dancer, Patti has studied Visual Arts and has worked with children over the years. “I dance 5-7 hours a week, I do visual artwork and I make music, and I book my own daughter’s gigs. The volunteer work that I do with kids in the arts really came together after I became a parent, when my daughter went to Givins-Shaw. Many of the parents are professional actors, musicians, dancers and visual artists and so the community really values creativity.”

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In addition to running an arts-focused after-school program for kids using our Flex Studios, Patti organized and curated a kids and youth art show most recently on display in our second floor Hallway Galleries. “Artscape Youngplace has been an amazing place for me. I was involved in a lot of creative projects when my daughter was at Givins Shaw, and now that is no longer the centre of my universe. I find Artscape to be receptive to my ideas; its kind of a hot bed for creative community activity. There are people constantly meeting and talking about ideas here.”

This show has been a true representation and culmination of Patti’s work and dedication to these kids. “My feeling is that I don’t think people give kids enough credit. I think kids are generally brilliant human beings and it’s super sad that people don’t stop and pay attention. Children act the way that you treat them and they have a lot to offer. The kid’s artwork in this show is as interesting to me as any adult work I’ve seen.”

Patti’s experience with exhibiting work started by showing her daughter’s artwork in adult shows around the Queen West area, and has grown to include dozens of kids from the neighbourhood of varying ages. Patti is full of ideas for future exhibitions and programming opportunities. “Every year I think ‘why wouldn’t I do this show again?’ It was so successful and so pleasant for me. I have a million ideas, with dance, music, for this I would love to expand the exhibition and have an auction at the end.”

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It is impossible not to be inspired by Patti. The joy and care for her kids and for the arts can be felt all around her. “That’s what excites me, pulling people into different art forms. You hear people say ‘oh I can’t sing, I can’t draw a stick man, I can’t do this’, but unless you’re showing work at the AGO, you should just go for it, make some art and not worry about what people think.”

For Patti, it’s all about participation, “All people are happier when they’re involved in the arts, and it takes absolutely zero skill to gain happiness, connection with community and fulfillment from involvement in any of the arts. Art should be shared, and not every piece of kid’s art should go from the fridge to the garbage. It doesn’t take very much to suggest to a child that they could fold it in half and give it as a card, or that they could give it to one off their neighbours. I think it brings people together.”

Her philosophy surrounding the arts is one that she carries in all aspects of life. “I believe that everyone’s self-expression is valid. It’s very important to make yourself happy. If you spend part of your life doing something that is ideal, you will in that segment of your life be your most brilliant self and you will show that to the world.” The roots of Patti’s philosophy are participation and the benefits when experiences come into fruition. “I don’t think there is any reason not to get up on a little platform and sing a song for 4 people, and it doesn’t have to be on a big scale. I don’t think we stop enough to share those parts of our day.”

“If I do something that is 100 or 99 percent me even if I can only do it for 2 hours a week, I am bringing into fruition a completely pleasurable experience where I will appear to be someone people want to be around. Generosity in art and in life does not have to be a sacrifice. Just say yes to opportunities and figure it out later!”

You can catch Patti around the neighbourhood and grooving in the hallways after school.

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