Kiernan Lofland ’10 is nothing if not energetic. His mass of corkscrew curls shakes as he strides to the room to demonstrate his welding skills. Sparks fly as he cuts a piece of metal in half with a blow-torch. He remains unfazed despite the hazards.
“When [my honor thesis] is done, I’m going to take a day and get good at welding,” he said.
In addition to welding, Kiernan said he has endless plans for his creative future.
“I’m not ready to go to grad school. We’re going to see if I can make work outside of this structured academic setting, where I have [art professor] Elizabeth [Mead] checking in on me,” he said. “When I hit a point where I’m stumped, then I can go to grad school.”
Mead, who taught Lofland in several upper level sculpting classes said she hasn’t seen Lofland stumped by a project yet.
“He’s moved into a stride, and he’s got a lot to discover here,” Mead said.
Loftland is familiar with both country life and the big city, as he grew up outside of Richmond. But it’s the country where he feels most at home artistically.
“I think that’s important for my tactile sensibility,” he said. “ I grew up playing in the country. I didn’t play video games. Instead I built a tree house with my dad when I was seven with power tools.”
An avid lacrosse player and surfer, Lofland originally came to the College for athletics, recruited as a pole-vaulter on the track team. However, once here, he found a different passion.
“William and Mary allowed me to discover my passion for art,” he said.
His athletic vigor is readily apparent in his work, through both the process and the finished result.
“When I think of Kiernan, I think of a lot of energy and curiosity,” art professor Brian Kreydatus said. “He’s curious about how things work and look, how one thing leads to another. His work is about the physical activity of putting down a mark.”
Lofland spent last summer in New Mexico at Southern Methodist Unviersity in Taos, a rustic landscape which he said helped shape his current aesthetic trajectory.
“I made a lot of stuff and it worked pretty well,” he said. “It was basically a breakthrough, I had four big assemblages of logs and construction debris.”
Upon returning to the College, Lofland took over the brick enclosure just outside of Andrews Hall. He quickly filled it, turning it into a junkyard of sorts, housing his personal collection of possible sculpting material. Inside is a bevy of finds, including lumber, broken pieces of furniture and a plastic frog he found abandoned on the side of the road. Out in his junkyard, Lofland surveys the scene with pride, picking up various objects and explaining their stories.
“I love the transition from the green to the red,” he said in reference to the inside of a wheelbarrow that caught his eye.
Lofland said he often goes to construction sites and into the woods to find materials.
“Searching is just as much a part of the process,” he said. “If I don’t use things that don’t already interest me, the work does not come out well. I can’t use just any stick, it has to be the stick.”
Currently, Lofland is using his finds for his thesis, which consists of both sculpture pieces and print works.
“All of the classes I took before are starting to culminate now, I’m figuring out how I use my hands and what my sensibilities are,” he said.
One of his most striking sculptures in Andrew foyer is a monumental curving piece covered with white paint, with hints of pink and red. For Lofland, the paint provides an important juxtaposition.
“Painting makes things lose its materiality,” he said. “When you cover something with paint, you mask it and make the natural artificial.”
This theme of contrasts runs throughout his work. To go with the larger piece, he has created a series of what he refers to as “three-dimensional drawings” formed from various branches bound together with wire and concrete and shaped into curving formations.
“[The smaller series] developed by taking material and seeing how I can accentuate or augment it,” Lofland said. “They’re kind of fantastical in a sense. They could take you out for a split second, but they’re still totally bound to the world.”
Lofland feels his prints correlate directly to his sculptures.
“They’re similar in their singularity,” he said. “I’m getting back into printmaking. I want a few more etchings and a whole bunch of monotypes.”
This ability to connect media is something his professors see as integral to his work.
“He’s rare in that he doesn’t see them as any different. He just explores the same idea in both of them,” Kreydatus said.
His honor’s thesis show, which also features fellow artist Sarah Williams, will begin April 26 and run through April 29. More work will be on display May 3 at the senior show, along with all graduating art majors.
Beyond that, Lofland is optimistic. He said he is eager to keep exploring his aesthetic, with possible plans to experiment with various media, including photography and video.
“He innately has this joy and delight in the world around him,” Mead said. “He has a way of opening things up with a curiosity about the whole world at large.”