My name is Kate. For the last year I have been living and studying in Florence, Italy, pursuing my dream of becoming a sculptor. I am attending The Sacred Art School where I am receiving a classical training in figural sculpture. I will finish the program this June, but only if I come up with the funding to do so. That is where all of you come in (hopefully!).
But first, let me answer a few questions you may have.
I found out about the Sacred Art School when I was a sophomore at Benedictine College and was even fortunate enough to attend an intensive month long program there after I graduated from Benedictine in the summer of 2013. It was during that summer program that I first tried my hand at sculpture, under the instruction of Cody Swanson, as we spent a week sculpting a portrait from life.
Though we didn’t have time to finish these portraits, as I worked on this exercise I discovered a new means for expressing myself visually. This new material and new way of working felt so natural to me, it was like breathing. I found a passion and love in art that I had not experienced in my past studies. At the risk of sounding cheesy or dramatic I will share with you that I felt like I had received a calling; a calling to be a sculptor. I felt like I discovered a part of myself that had yet to be formed and I was excited at the prospect of pursuing an education that would help me to form it.
I searched for schools in the States that could teach me figural sculpture in a classical manner and found some other contenders but none that were as affordable or as based in tradition as the Sacred Art School. I could not justify spending $72,000 on a 2-year education in the States when I knew it would’ve been €12,000 ($14,000) at the Sacred Art School. Not only would that education be more affordable but it also offered another unique opportunity: to learn the art of figural sculpture in Florence, Italy, surrounded by the great masters of the past, in an environment grounded in the faith that I hoped to one day serve through my art.
The process to get to Italy took a few years because of many factors but the door was finally opened again May 2016. I applied, got accepted, saved as much money as possible in a short amount of time and left last January to finally begin my formation as a sculptor, still under the instruction of Cody Swanson, who I admire so much as an artist, and in the environment that I have discerned is best for reaching my artistic and personal goals.
Is she even good at sculpture?
I have worked on many studies in both sculpture and in drawing since arriving at the school which prepared me for the more finished works I have made, like this sculpture of Christ. This was the second full figure sculpture I ever worked on. I entered a plaster cast of this piece into a juried art show in Kansas City, put on by The Catholic Foundation of Northeast Kansas, and won! It was an exciting and validating moment on this journery.
This is the most recent piece I have worked on. It is unfinished because it is a collaborative work commissioned by a large church in Madrid, Spain, to be worked on by my instructors, Cody Swanson and Fernando Cidoncha, and three of us students. It is a large relief panel that will be one of three total reliefs for the church. Cody did the drawing for this Visitation scene and I brought the piece this far as my part of the work. The background and finishing work on the figures will be done by Cody and Fernando. I am proud to have been given the opportunity to work on a commissioned project and I'm grateful for all that I learned in the process.
Why start a GoFundMe?
Asking for money is not something I wanted to do, which is why I have put it off as long as possible hoping I could come up with a way to keep going on my own. I worked like crazy and saved for 8 months before flying out last January and once I arrived in Florence I somehow managed to find three jobs that I have kept up with all while going to school from 9-5 Monday through Friday (and most Saturdays). I have exhausted almost all of my savings and the three jobs that I work are barely enough to cover my living expenses anymore, unless I skip more school (which is obviously counter-productive, especially in this final push to finish the program). I have tried to apply for all kinds of loans and scholarships but the fact that my school is foreign and private disqualifies me for most everything out there, leaving me entirely responsible for the full tuition.
Here is the breakdown of my expenses (in Euro and USD):
→ Tuition for the remainder of my program: €4,800 which is about $5,780
→ Cost of living, at the bare minimum, (including rent, utilities, and food) through June: €3,600 which is about $4,300
Leaving me in need of a total of €8,400 or about $10,000+
I included the “+” because the $10,000 doesn’t include:
→ The cost of a flight home at the end: about $800
→ The cost of art supplies: unknown at this time but probably around $250
(As an example: the typical cost of making a mold for one of my sculptures is about €70 and I will most likely need to make three molds between now and June)
→ Unexpected costs: like the time I broke my arm a few months ago and had to spend €600 that I barely had in my depleting budget
That is the reality of my financial situation but the other reality is that I have grown so much in the last year and I can only anticipate what more I could accomplish between now and June if I am able to get the necessary funding.
How can you help?
I need to come up with the tuition, $5,780, by the end of January and the rest of my monetary goal needs be met in the months following to get me to June. It is a large sum and not much time, but hopefully through the generosity of you incredible supporters I can see this thing through!
Please know how much I appreciate you even taking the time to read this and consider. Anything you can give would be of great help and if you cannot give monetarily at this time your prayers and moral support are also greatly needed and appreciated. Another thing you could do to help would be sharing my GoFundMe campaign with others who you think might want to support me in this endeavor.
Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart.
If you have any questions or want to know more, please don't hesitate to contact me. You can do so through this GoFundMe page or Facebook if we are friends :)
- Michella Stiles
- FrKyle Berens
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