I believe WE as a collective are starting to understand just how connected we all are and while change can be difficult, it is indeed possible and essential for our human survival. Help Heal Humanity was created out of love and justice for all beings everywhere. HHH is the actual result of pure love in motion and our dedication to helping others — especially those most in need — has been the pillar that not only brought us into existence but will help carry us through these rather difficult times. I believe this is a pivotal time calling all of us toward not only social justice but our own spiritual practices. In a reasonably short period of time, we have seen we can heal our planet by changing our behavior.
As part of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Patricia Karen Gagic.
Patricia is an accomplished international contemporary artist and an award-winning author. She is President of Patricia Karen Gagic Art Enterprise Inc. She is represented by the Paul Fisher Gallery in West Palm Beach and Miami, 13th Street Gallery in St. Catharines, Gallery on the Bay in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, Artworld Fine Art in Toronto and FACEC In France. Patricia has exhibited with BB International Fine Arts in Switzerland. Her work was accepted in several Art Fairs including Geneva, Berlin, France, Austria, Zurich, London United Kingdom and Seoul, Korea. Exhibitions across North America have included the Coda Gallery in New York, Meg Gallery and Peak Gallery in Toronto. Patricia has an impressive pedigree. In 1999, she began her solo mentorship with Master artist Dragan Dragic in Savoillan, France attending private teachings and critiquing by him. It was her great honor to exhibit with Dragan Dragic in Sault, France in 2008 with curation by Jean Pierre Thelcide. In 2007, Patricia was appointed Honorary Commissioner at the 52nd Venice Biennale in support of Transcendental Realism — art by Adi Da Samraj. She is recognized by the International Institute for Arts Accreditation as an International Certified Artist. She is also a member of Mondial Art Institute and in 2018, exhibited at Parallax Art Fairs in London, Chelsea and Kensington UK.
In 2013, Patricia was Knighted as a Dame of the International Order of Saint George Grand Prior of Canada. She was a member of the Ontario Cabinet of Friends of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Sir Edmund Hilary Foundation and the Divon Academy. Patricia is a consultant at AiDA, Academy of Imagination and Dramatic Arts in Hamilton, Ontario. She is also a Co-founder and Advisor of Help Heal Humanity a registered not for profit supporting education in Haiti and Kenya.
Patricia has received numerous awards and nominations, including Status of Women — Woman of the Year, YMCA Peace Medal, YWCA Women of Distinction, and the Toronto Women’s Expo Award of Excellence. She is an invited member of the IWF (International Women’s Forum) Toronto Chapter and member of the Engagement Committee. Her nomination as a Woman of Inspiration 2020 for the Universal Women’s Network was accepted.
Patricia remains committed to a project she began in 2006 in Cambodia where she participated in building the first Buddhist library at Angkor Wat, Siem Reap. Her love for the Cambodian people flourishes through her relationship with Master Keo Ann. Together, they built a school for poor children, an orphanage and a school for monks. She is involved in Boeng Meala, Cambodia with a library and Innovation House.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
A fascination with fashion and abstract paintings existed since I was a young girl. My dream was to become a fashion designer and yet my love for “numbers” evolved into a career in finance and banking. Drawing and painting were always considered to be a hobby until one magical day when I realized it was far more complex and spiritual. I believed there was a more significant purpose for life and the best way to express it was thru writing, painting, and serving others. My late father was genuinely filled with a great understanding of life purpose. We were taught to put others before ourselves and recognize the true nature of humanity was to “thine own self be true” and “pay attention”. As my passion for painting evolved, I met my mentor in France, who changed the course of my artistic career. From 1999 until today I am blessed to have been taught by Dragan Dragic one of the top contemporary artists of Provence, France.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?
The synchronicities of life reveal themselves in different ways. In 2006 I was inspired to support a library project in Angkor Wat, Siem Reap Cambodia. A friend visited the historical and sacred site and ventured off the beaten path to find herself at the south pagoda. It was here she met the young monk who declared the orphanage for poor children would be closed unless Master Keo ann was able to build a library to house the books which were hidden in stupas since the time of the Khmer Rouge insurgence. 25 years later he was desperate to continue serving the Buddhist and Cambodian community. It was a God call for me. I knew there was a profound connection to Master Keo ann and I agreed to financially support this endeavor. The amazing result not only had a significant impact on the community but also changed my life. The library was built, the governing body allowed the school to continue and we eventually spent five years upgrading and developing programs for Cambodian folklore and Buddhist teachings to be sustainable. In addition to the Cambodia project, I was involved with the Colors of Freedom Foundation supporting children impacted after 911 and other worthy organizations including Free the Children, Outward Bound and Classroom Connections. Several years ago, I met Serena Bufalino who had created the Haiti School Building project in Canaan. We put our interests together and Help Heal Humanity was created. Our work now includes feeding the homeless in Spain, Canada and Kenya along with Cambodia and Haiti.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
In my early painting career, I was so anxious to enter all the juried exhibitions and contests. I would stay up for hours and work on my paintings. I had no formal training and the internet was not available! I had to depend on self-taught lessons from library books which were challenging without formal guidance. My husband who was incredibly supportive would load up our vehicle with the oil paints completely wet! We would drive for hours to deliver them for jurying. At one art event, considered to be prestigious, my paintings were rejected as they were not completely dry! It was super embarrassing and terrifically funny as we carefully carried them back to the car! The following week I registered for an art program which was designed for individuals to earn their degree while working. I spent one month in the program and then was told I already knew enough, and it was not necessary to have a degree. I learned every person is on a different path or trajectory and the decisions we make believing we are not “good enough” do not always matter in the long run. Never be discouraged!
Can you describe how you or your organization is making a significant social impact?
I believe WE as a collective are starting to understand just how connected we all are and while change can be difficult, it is indeed possible and essential for our human survival. Help Heal Humanity was created out of love and justice for all beings everywhere. HHH is the actual result of pure love in motion and our dedication to helping others — especially those most in need — has been the pillar that not only brought us into existence but will help carry us through these rather difficult times. I believe this is a pivotal time calling all of us toward not only social justice but our own spiritual practices. In a reasonably short period of time, we have seen we can heal our planet by changing our behavior. What a difference our communities make when we look out for each other. There is hope… something with which we at HHH strive to sustain. As we transition to the new post-COVID world, we have shifted our focus to include Food/Sanitation and Hygiene along with Education. Although we have lost our ability to engage in live events, we have created online campaigns to keep our communities safe and alive during this time.
Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?
One individual who has been very connected to our Cambodia work is Sothany Peung. We have determined a new teaching opportunity is very needed in the area of Chrung Romea Village, Kampong Kong District, Kandal province, Cambodia. Our support will benefit 25 children who will receive basic English and Chinese lessons. Life skills including, cooking, washing, cleaning and computer skills will be taught. Thany is a young person who is educated in the hospitality industry and will now use these skills to benefit a very underprivileged community.
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
There are always incredible people who believe in service above self. Encouraging others to share their knowledge, time and finances always makes a difference. There is doing by example which instils a sense of community and equanimity.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
I like to think of leaders as being visionaries who see the difference between average and exceptional. People who are action takers with a sense of potential for betterment of humankind. I like to think people who are leaders do so by example and make the effort to step outside the box every chance they get. Thought leaders change the ordinary to extraordinary.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- I wish I understood that taking a risk is okay. Listening to other opinions which might not be relevant or come from a place of their own self-negativity will not serve me.
- I wish someone told me it was okay to make mistakes and not be so hard on myself.
- I wish someone told me to save for a rainy day.
- I wish someone told me to listen to my inner gut feelings more often.
- I wish someone told me to believe in myself, no matter what!
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I love this question. I have decided the Karmic Revolution is really needed. My hope is to encourage people thru mindfulness, meditation and working on their own spiritual path they will find a deeper meaning of life. In addition, paying attention to cause and effect with a heightened sense of awareness will impact choices and the future.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“without a rich heart, wealth is an ugly beggar”. Ralph Waldo Emerson
Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
There are a few people who I have admired and have been curious about. I think Jim Carrey brings a sense of uniqueness to the world especially with his painting. He would be one person I would enjoy meeting.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!