Evangelos Frudakis has probably seen PAFA’s historic cast collection hundreds of times, not to mention the actual masterpieces from which the plasters were created. Still, at the age of 94, they clearly thrill him as much as when he first saw them as a PAFA student.
“These were my best friends when I was here,” Frudakis said during a recent visit to the Cast Hall. “They’re so inspiring, how can you not be moved by them?”
Frudakis started at PAFA in 1941, a student of the legendary Walker Hancock, but he was soon drafted to serve in Europe during World War II. He was injured and, he acknowledges, “didn’t have the best attitude” upon his return from the war. Yet, he returned to his studies at PAFA.
To say his student years at PAFA were stellar would be an understatement. “I won everything they had, and then some,” he says with a smile.
Frudakis had his own school for 17 years and recently returned to PAFA to judge the prestigious Stewardson Competition for sculpture, which he won during his student years.
“I love to teach, to see the young evolve, and then suddenly, you see the miracle.”
Success comes “to the person who works hard, has great instructors and gets an early start,” he says. “Fortunately, all of those applied in my case.”
“I always tell students, ‘You’ve got to have a philosophy, you’ve got to know what you’re going for.' They all have the talent, but do you have the passion, excitement, love?"
Frudakis said his first love is stone carving, which he still does. Currently, he is working on a commission of a head sculpted in marble. And at the age of 90, the National Sculpture Society awarded him with its prestigious Medal of Honor.
“We are poets in clay. We capture something that has its own identity,” he says. “My philosophy was poetry, it was excellence, and it was that the truth comes from nature.”
For more stories about PAFA students, alumni, exhibitions and more, visit the PAFA Perspectives blog.