Teaching and Learning Institute

Living and sustaining a creative life after college

Sarah Kaufman, Visiting Assistant Professor of Art, constructed a unique day of interdisciplinary art-related talks and visits around Philadelphia for students in her senior capstone course.

With the support of a TLI Grant, Kaufman was able to organize an off-campus speaker series that provided real examples of how aspects of the arts can integrate into life after college and how a studio practice can be sustained as one facet of a full life. As part of an ongoing initiative to build community and an interdisciplinary spirit among the majors in both Studio Art and Art History, Kaufman and Deborah Barkun (Art History) invited the Art History Capstone class to join in the experience. As Kaufman notes, students benefit from this shared experience because “they bring a range of media and ideas to the group.”


The trip took place on the day before the Annual Student Exhibition opened at the Berman Museum of Art, which made for a celebratory culmination of the Capstone semester. It was s year of hard work in the studio and students had just come through the intensity and anxiety of designing and installing their final exhibition. As Kaufman explains, she hoped this experience “would help her students build bridges across disciplines and connect with the world beyond campus well after graduation.” 


The day began with a bus ride to Villanova University’s Falvey Memorial Library to see the conservation of Pietro da Cortina’s Triumph of David and hear from the painting’s lead conservator, Kristin deGhetaldi. DeGhetaldi gave a talk about the history and provenance of the 12 x 20 foot painting (c.1620) and the process of its elaborate and ongoing restoration. After the formal talk, deGhetaldi shared openly about her longtime interest in both chemistry and art along with her career path in art conservation. She spoke individually with students especially interested in the field.


The next stop of the day was the studio and workshop of Kate Kaman and Joel Erland, collaborative artists who make large-scale public sculpture, inspired by chemical and biological forms. They began with a tour of their live/work space, a converted silversmithy in Germantown that is itself a work of art. Kaman and Erland presented an artist talk, showed sculpture, discussed their research as it has developed over time, and shared designs for future pieces. They also engaged students in an informal discussion about the nitty-gritty of sustaining life as a working artist and how they ended up where they are today.


The final stop of the day was down Germantown Avenue to Kaufman’s own studio that she shares with three other artists who are also educators. Kaman and Erland joined the group for an evening of pizza and conversation and finally, the cutting of a cake that read, “Congratulations seniors, embrace creative risk-taking!”