Your connection to the University of Michigan-Dearborn | Spring 2019

Artistic Roots Re-Emerge

In a very real sense, Patrick Hunter has lived one of his favorite quotes by Pablo Picasso: “All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”

As a kid, art was everything to Hunter. But when it came time to choose a path in college, his instincts told him to be more practical. He stopped by UM-Dearborn’s College of Engineering and Computer Science, browsed through the brochures, and chose computer science based on the strong career outlook. He worked hard, scored a good job at Hewlett Packard, and for 10 years, essentially forgot he’d ever been an art kid.

Then one day he got a call from his mom.

“She asked me what I was doing with my art. I told her, ‘Nothing, really.’ To me, it had no purpose anymore. Then she said something that totally changed things for me: ‘Remember, our gifts are not ours, they’re for other people.’”

The idea wouldn’t let Hunter go, and almost immediately, he found himself pushing to rediscover his artistic roots. But this time, he didn’t want to work on big pieces for months in “unrewarding” solitude. Instead, he hoped to bring his art — and the very process of making art — into direct contact with his audience.

Remember, our gifts are not ours, they’re for other people.

The result is a brand of visual performance art that’s taken Hunter all over the country since. His paintings materialize in a matter of minutes, set to music, and in front of a live audience. The blending of artistic mediums is essential to the experience. But Hunter, who paints and performs under the stage name Patcasso, said it also represents a blurring of the two chapters of his life. “To me, combining the music, the painting, my movement — that has to be structured and designed.” For that, he said he constantly draws on his training as a software engineer.

In fact, blurring the lines between STEM fields and the arts (collectively known as STEAM) has become a mission for Hunter. Off the stage, his STEAM Revolt program uses the arts to introduce STEM concepts to kids. (Think: a workshop on prototyping that he teaches using a DJ.) And he’s currently creating a docuseries (“Full STEAM with Patcasso”) that he describes as “Anthony Bourdain meets ‘Reading Rainbow.’” We can’t wait for that one.

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