Kate Ten Eyck,
art studio technician for the Center for the Arts, teaches students how to
properly use mechanical equipment.
Studio Arts Technician Keeps Arts Area Environmentally Friendly
Early in life, Kate
Ten Eyck developed a knack for understanding how things work. As a teen, she
learned to fix cars, reconstructed a sewing machine and enthusiastically
studied human anatomy. While she went on to pursue a career in the arts, she
never lost her natural curiosity for mechanics.
In the Center for the Arts and the Art and Art History Department, where she
has worked since 2000, Ten Eyck meshes her passions for art, teaching and
technical problem solving in one position as art studio technician.
“One moment I could be talking with a student about artists who create work
in line with that student’s interests, and the next, I could be fixing a
drill press or mixing photo chemicals,” she says. “Since I understand both
the artistic and technical sides of the arts, this position is a match made
Art students take full advantage of Ten Eyck’s abilities, and often ask her
for advice on their projects.
“My favorite part of the job is when a student comes up to me and says, ‘I
want to build this, but I don’t know how.’ I enjoy helping to teach students
the skills they need to realize their creative potential,” she says.
Ten Eyck not only repairs machines, but also trains student artists how to
use them properly – and safely. Several years ago, she helped acquire a
flesh-sensitive table saw, which stops in 3 milliseconds if a finger lingers
a little too close to the blade.
“I can sleep better at night knowing we have this special machine,” she
She also teaches chemical hygiene and environmental health-related issues to
students enrolled in art classes.
“Until recently,” she explains, “many artists were using materials that we
now know to be potentially hazardous to a person’s health. Here in the art
facilities, we use ventilation, require protective clothing and in some
cases phase materials out completely.”
Ten Eyck is always looking for ways to reduce and eliminate waste. For
example, painting students now have a system to collectively recycle mineral
spirits over and over again instead of disposing of them after one use.
“Wesleyan has been especially proactive when it comes to students’ health
and caring for the environment, and our way of collecting hazardous wastes
has improved dramatically,” says Ten Eyck, who is a member of Wesleyan’s
Sustainability Committee. The Art and Art History Department has also
dramatically increased paper, cardboard and wood scrap recycling in the past
As an artist, Ten Eyck has worked in many different media, including
drawing, sculpture, woodcuts, monotype printing, lithography and etching.
She is a 1996 graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design and 2005
graduate of the Hartford Art School. She holds a bachelor of fine arts in
sculpture and a master of fine arts in printmaking.
Her artwork has been featured in galleries nationwide. Some highlights
include a series of etchings depicting the ecology of parasites, welded
steel shoes in the shape of
chicken feet, and
mechanically-moving table and chairs
activated by motion detectors.
May 2007, she was one of 10 Wesleyan artists featured in The Faculty Show,
showing her ambitious latest work, “Carousel.” Ten Eyck considers herself a
“third generation tinker” and says the piece was inspired by her father and
late grandfather, both builders and inventors. “Carousel," pictured at
right, is constructed of four wagon wheels, bark-peeled branches and a
steel, crankshaft-like mechanism. Viewers are encouraged to interact with
the piece. “Saw Machine,” another one of Ten Eyck’s three-dimensional,
interactive sculptures, accompanied “Carousel” in the show.
“These are both sculptural vehicles and simple machines, and each represents
my renewed interest in performance, tapping into my experience with dance,
theater and music,” she says, regarding her recent creations.
Much of her theatrical interest stems from her experience working as
Technical Director for Oddfellows Playhouse in Middletown after college. In
the summer of 2007, she furthered her theatrical studies with an internship
at the Bread & Puppet Theater in Glover, Vt.
Largely through her experiences working with at-risk youth at Oddfellows,
Ten Eyck discovered a personal devotion to young adults. In the past three
years, she and her husband, pianist Noah Baerman, have become long-term
foster parents to three teenagers, ages 14, 16 and 19. “There is a severe
shortage of foster and adoptive parents, especially for teens,” says Ten
Eyck. “No child should have to grow up without a family. My girls are
amazing, and this parenting journey has been the most gratifying experience
of my life.”