Fairmont State University Assistant Professor of Art, Kylie Ford, doesn’t just teach her students about creative methods and techniques; she also imparts values that will inspire them to pursue successful careers as professional artists.
“Engagement and enthusiasm are some of the largest points that I model for students in the classroom,” said Ford. “I want to help lead students to areas of research that they are passionate about and use the discipline of art as a basis for synthesizing their passions.”
Ford herself embodies just what can be achieved when artists do cultivate those passions – over the course of her career, she has earned recognition for her work from numerous art publications, organizations, museums, studios and galleries. Most recently, Ford was awarded a prestigious solo exhibition at The Sculpture Center in Cleveland, Ohio. Her exhibition, titled “Passing Through,” is part of the Center’s annual Revealed Early Artist series, which provides artists who are in the first 10 years of their careers the opportunity to establish recognition in their creative practice.
“Professor Ford embodies so much of what makes our teachers great,” said Mirta M. Martin, Fairmont State University President. “Kylie is an extraordinary professional artist, as this solo exhibition confirms. But she is also passionately dedicated to her students’ educations. And with exhibitions like this, she inspires her students to envision a world beyond the four walls of the art studio.”
For Ford, who balances her time between teaching undergraduate courses in sculpture and studio art, advising students in the University’s Art Education program and creating her own work, earning a place within the Revealed series is a testament to both her prowess and dedication.
“This exhibition has meant that I was able to execute an ambitious project and become affiliated with a new creative community,” said Ford. “Working on larger scale projects is quite a difficult task to accomplish on a casual basis. Large-scale installation work really has to be created with a venue in mind, and the exhibition at The Sculpture Center allowed me to do just that.”
“Passing Through” was inspired by the experiences Ford, a West Virginia native, has had living in Appalachia, a place she describes as “beautiful, peaceful and sometimes neglected.”
“I see this region as seeping with contradiction,” said Ford.
Through her art, Ford says she has been able to express her experiences and observations in a tangible way.
“As I move through my daily routines, I see evidence of the idiosyncrasies that define this rich, yet not so rich, area. I see the wear and tear of lost industries, of lost labor and, in some instances, lost hope. It’s in the natural and man-made landscapes in both subtle and apparent ways,” she said. “I use uncanny material and formal analogies to construct composite spaces that negotiate the essence of living in West Virginia.”
Now, through her platform as a University instructor in her home state, Ford is not only able to serve as a shining example of what a fruitful career in the contemporary art field can look like, but also share her experiences and insight with the aspiring artists who are pursuing an education at her alma mater.
“I was interested in teaching at my alma mater as a way to give back to the place that helped jumpstart my passion for the studio arts," said Ford. “I love that I am able to come back to the community that helped me grow personally and professionally. I am able to provide new perspectives on art and education while continuing the culture of care and inclusion that is integral to the Fairmont State community.”
“Passing Through” is on display at The Sculpture Center until June 26. Learn more about Ford and her exhibition at www.sculpturecenter.org/revealed-artist-kylie-ford-passing-through/.