Tyler Kline

Creating Contemporary Art At A Historic Academy

In the Historic Landmark Building, paintings from the 18th century hang along contemporary works. Our Alumni Gallery offers a contemporary view of PAFA’s long-standing traditions in art making.

The Alumni Gallery exhibits works by alumni from all of PAFA’s matriculating programs. By building connections between PAFA’s alumni and current students, these exhibitions highlight the histories, lineages, and legacies shared by the school community.

As part of the Alumni Gallery’s Ghost in the Machine: Video In The Realm of Objects exhibition, Tyler Kline (MFA ’11) manipulates photos of friends and fellow artists into video.

“That was created over a one year period using a couple different friends who are artists and I admired their work and I had them sit for me,” he said. “I took a picture, stroke by stroke of the theatrical makeup on their face.”

The Philadelphia-based multimedia artist works make use of base materials and alchemical processes to translate the chaos of everyday stimulus into the universal. Kline’s videos, installations, and sculptures propose alternate structures of reality where logic is thrown out, and a direct experience with the unknown becomes possible. His use of the moving image often incorporates both digital and analog maneuvers, transposing the space of one into the other—sometimes resulting in a physical object.

“I’m fascinated with how media can span millennia these days, the only thing that limits us is ideology and imagination,” he said.

The idea of limitless potential is what drew Kline to Philadelphia initially. He moved to the city from Portland after studying at Portland State University, focusing on the school’s foundry.

“I had always been interested in Philadelphia’s history and I come out of skateboarding culture and there was this whole street art graffiti art youth culture. It was really an interesting place,” Kline said. “I moved here in 2003 and the sky was the limit. There were great artist collective spaces and weird warehouse spaces doing fantastic experimental things.”

Through the artists Kline met, he was introduced to PAFA and fell for the depth of the institution’s history. But he was also interested in the new work being done at a school with such a storied history.

“The Hamilton building has just opened and I met people who were doing time-based timework,” he said. “Dr. Kevin Richards was a recent addition and the foundry was new. I really wanted to study video and take foundry.”

Kline points to teachers like Associate Professor Steve Nocella in helping him grow as an artist.

“He’s very empathetic and extremely knowledgeable and I love the way he makes work and the work he makes,” he said. “He’s all around a mentor.”

Since graduating in 2011, Kline has watched the MFA program grow by leaps and bounds. He credits his fellow students and those who have come after him with adding a layer to PAFA’s legacy.

“There really was this sense of trailblazing not only within our own work but helped PAFA be an incubator for thoughtful contemporary art,” he said. “The one thing I always loved is that since the MFA is its own entity it doesn’t push any trends where you have to make this work for these galleries and go to New York. It was the opposite.”

Visit the Alumni Gallery

About PAFA

Founded in 1805, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts is the United States’ first school and museum of fine arts. A recipient of the National Medal of Arts, PAFA offers a world-class collection of American art, innovative exhibitions of historic and contemporary American art, and educational opportunities in the fine arts. The PAFA Museum aims to tell America's diverse story through art, expanding who has been included in the canon of art history through its collections, exhibitions, and public programs, while classes educate artists and appreciators with a deep understanding of traditions and the ability to challenge conventions. PAFA’s esteemed alumni include Mary Cassatt, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, William Glackens, Barkley L. Hendricks, Violet Oakley, Louis Kahn, David Lynch, and Henry Ossawa Tanner.