Meet the Artist: Kory Parkin
Written by Angela Hawn
In conversation with Kory Parkin, one thing becomes abundantly clear fast: no matter how many successes this 39-year-old Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory artist enjoys or how many major league connections he makes in the world of sports, he’s grateful for every positive that comes his way. When the chance to shine a light on Indigenous culture via art arises, Parkin’s first instinct seems to involve acknowledging those who helped make it happen.
Citing both family and community for their constant support, Parkin claims his wife Marina played an especially important role in steering him towards taking his passions seriously. While he’s always dabbled in creative ventures, the artist credits his spouse for providing the kind of structure conducive to pursuing big dreams. Considering the pair both hold down day jobs and share responsibility for a fourteen-month-old toddler, carving out time for Parkin’s art is no easy task.
“Coffee helps, too,” the artist jokes, noting projects featuring his distinctive First Nations designs have become a bit easier to put into practice with digital skills picked up through Conestoga College. He speaks reverently of his parents’ long-ago decision to move back to Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory from Toronto and reminisces about attending Quinte Mohawk School. “My parents wanted to get us back to a more traditional lifestyle,” says Parkin.
Meanwhile, family and friends frequently send links to various art contests. One competition saw a Parkin original adorn a wall in a waiting room at the Cancer Centre of Southeastern Ontario in Kingston. Another contest with the British Columbia-based Indigenous Proud clothing label led to Parkin’s winning logo appearing on apparel in Walmart stores right across the country for National Indigenous Peoples Day. Collectors of the artist’s work range from Toronto Blue Jay’s pitcher Alek Manoah to Grey Cup winner A.J. Ouellette, but anyone interested can get in touch through his Instagram or website.
“It feels great to get tagged on social media and see pictures of people wearing hoodies with my work,” admits Parkin, declaring he welcomes the boost in confidence every time his art sparks a mention, from friends, strangers, or even media giants like Sportsnet and TSN.
Whether he’s meeting childhood hero Mike “Pinball” Clemons (pictured right along with Deionte Knight from the Toronto Argonauts) through a youth football program for which Parkin designed the shirts or coming up with the Pride logo for the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, the artist’s appreciation consistently shines through. And while he prefers not to divulge too much about upcoming work, recent projects connected to organizations from the Toronto Argos to the National Lacrosse League indicate his world keeps getting bigger all the time. Still, Parkin’s feet appear planted firmly on the ground, his sense of humour solidly intact.
“People know I’m a Red Wings fan,” he chuckles, referring to some work linked to the Toronto Maple Leafs. “And that’s ok.”