Kaitlyn Heath has never had a problem expressing herself. As a toddler, her grandmother Ora Heath recalled, she tried to talk to strangers. Whenever Ms. Heath asked why, Kaitlyn said she loved people.
At 11 years old, the bubbly Southold resident still strives to make others smile. She’s a budding artist, too: Clay figures she spent months creating are now on display in a glass case at Southold Free Library.
“She’s very talented,” said Melissa Andruski, who works in adult and local history services at the library. “I was very much impressed by the detail of them.”
A few weeks ago, Kaitlyn brought dozens of clay figures to the library, where they’ll remain on view through the middle of April. Ms. Andruski said she’s thrilled the young artist did so.
“We just like to encourage people to follow their dreams and pass it on,” she said. “That’s what Katie is doing.”
Ms. Heath said her granddaughter is always sharing her talents with others. She hands out colorful business cards decorated with rainbows, unicorns and flowers that feature the tagline “Spreading cheer and love to all people.” Kaitlyn has also made cards to distribute at local nursing homes, where she frequently talks with and sings for residents.
“She has the loveliest heart,” Ms. Heath said. “She just has this way about her that people gravitate toward her.”
Making things with clay has always been a hobby of Kaitlyn’s, but she became particularly focused on it last year when peers at Southold Elementary School began to notice her creations.
One day, while shaping one, Kaitlyn’s friends asked if she could make them something, too. She was thrilled to do so.
“I have lots of clay and it would be bad for it to go to waste,” she recalled thinking at the time.
After taking a few requests, she decided to make a box with the words “clay orders” written in pink ink and fancy script for classmates to drop their custom orders into. She brought the box home every night and came back the next day with tiny figures for everyone.
“I like that they’re happy,” Kaitlyn said. “Plus it’s really funny, some of the things they want,” she added, explaining that some of her more interesting requests include a dancing taco and a puppy eating a cookie.
Kaitlyn has also combined her passion for art with her love of Broadway, forming clay figures of her favorite theater actors. She even gave one to Tony Award-winning actress Kelli O’Hara when they met at Stony Brook University’s Staller Center for the Arts. The figure was of Ms. O’Hara in a costume from “The King and I” — one of Kaitlyn’s favorite musicals.
Kaitlyn fell in love with Broadway at a young age and it inspires many of the things she does today, like singing at the Southold Opera house. On display in her bedroom is a pin that says “Sing For Hope,” a reference to a New York City organization that gathers musicians of all types to participate in volunteer service programs. This is part of the reason Kaitlyn loves to sing for nursing home residents.
One time at San Simeon by the Sound in Greenport, she recalled, everyone was shocked when a resident who never spoke began to sing along.
Whether it’s sharing her musical talents or her art, Kaitlyn simply enjoys the chance to interact with others and make them smile.
“I love to be me and I’m creative,” she said.
“There’s a kindness in her,” Ms. Heath added. “I’m always proud of her.”
Top photo: Kaitlyn Heath with her sculptures at her home in Southold. (Credit: Krysten Massa)