As an artist, Kim Villagante doesn’t like to limit herself.
“I’m not just a visual artist; I’m not just a singer — I do a lot of things,” the 24-year-old says.
The self-described multidimensional artist and singer/songwriter experiments with rap, poetry, spoken word, painting, drawing and acting. She is currently working on an album slated for release in early 2014, and this fall, she’ll spend six weeks in Montreal acting in a hip-hop musical.
“It takes this powerful medium of hip hop and critiques the homophobia, racism and sexism within itself.”
She struggles with the idea of being a queer artist. “I wouldn’t say that I am an artist that creates queer art; I just happen to be queer, and inevitably, my queerness comes through in what I create or what I talk about in my music.”
The isolation she felt growing up in suburban Surrey subsided after she moved into the city.
“The artistic community is very small, but I feel a huge amount of support,” she says.
As someone who is learning to understand her own identity — as queer, as Filipino, as having ancestry in another country but being born and raised in Canada — she sees her art and her activism as one and the same.
“That is my form of activism: storytelling. Better understanding yourself and seeing how it connects to the whole.”
Part of that connection means giving back to the community and using art to support others.
Last year, she worked as a facilitator for Qmunity’s Routes to Roots, a program for queer youth of colour and immigrant youth, and she also organized a conference for queer women of colour. This summer, she mentored six youth in spoken word through the non-profit ArtQuake organization.
“For once in my life, I feel like there is a real community of support.”