Kate Kaman (Cert. ’04) came to PAFA with a passion for figurative painting. Early in the second year of her Certificate program, however, she started making stretcher bars out of found railroad ties. A sculptor was born.
“Still to this day, my work is largely driven by my early years at the Academy, where quiet observation and interpretation of nature was the main mode for creativity," she said.
Since 2005, Kaman and her partner Joel Erland have created artworks for civic and corporate clients universities, developers, and municipalities from Los Angeles and Boston to Miami and Seattle. They are designing several major sculptural pieces for clients nationwide — many of them schools.
This year the duo is building a 30-foot mobile for the Henrietta Lacks BioScience High School in Vancouver. Working from their “dream studio” they purchased five years ago in Philadelphia’s Germantown neighborhood, they are currently developing projects with the City’s Family Court, the Cira Center, and Parktowne Place, among others.
“As soon as I visited (PAFA), it felt like home, and there was a real kindred spirit with the students and teachers. I think because we had observation in common. While at PAFA, everyday was packed with information: anatomy class, figure class, printmaking, technical classes, and conceptual classes. We were exposed to what seemed like everything, and this really helped me decided what I wanted to do, and gave me so many skills and modes to do it in."
As a winner of the Cresson Memorial Travel Scholarship, Kaman traveled though Europe and observed the importance of sculpture within architecture, and in public places.
“The wonderful sculpture in the plazas, fountains, churches, and civic buildings in Europe inspired me to look at American public spaces in a different way. I realized sculpture does not have to be stuck in a museum, that it can function as a social catalyst that helps shape the identity of a community. PAFA provided a nurturing atmosphere where I discovered how passionate I was about making public art—especially sculpture that exists within a specific environment.”
“I am always impressed with how many PAFA graduates I know who are serious working artists. It is an honor to be an alumna. PAFA values work ethic. It was valuable to actually build so much while there, and to have the faculty and facilities to allow large scale creation.”