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Kal just sent us this lovely letter to let us know what his path has been like since graduation from UNC:

Hi there,

I graduated with a BFA in Studio Art (painting) in 2010 and was just looking at the alumni section of the department site today.  With all of the amazing stuff I see going on in the department, I’m not sure what I have to say is newsworthy, but I wanted to reach out to let anyone who would be interested to know where my degree got me.  Also, if you have any particular suggestions, I’d love to know of any ways to try to get/stay in contact with my fellow classmates.  Anyways, here’s my story:

My art career began at UNC when a couple of fellow undergrads founded the Artery, which was a short-lived albeit highly successful student-run gallery in the basement of the Bank of America building in downtown Chapel Hill.  I was lucky enough to show my work at the Artery and eventually take over as first curator and then director during my senior year.

Immediately after graduating in December 2010, I was accepted into an art residency in Berlin, Germany called Takt Kunstprojektraum.  Back then it was only a few years old, but I have kept up with the people there and see that it has really expanded.  I concentrated on my large-scale acrylic/mixed media painting and took part in monthly showings.  When I returned to NC in mid 2011, I resettled in Durham and continued to paint and was able to show my work both in a couple group showings as well as a solo show at the Carrack gallery in downtown Durham, which had just been started by a friend and fellow classmate of mine, Laura Ritchie (also c/o 2010).

I continued to paint for a few years but was essentially burned out from the vicious art scene I had gotten a taste of in Berlin.  Thus, I set out to learn how to make furniture.  I first apprenticed with Steve Peters at his workshop in downtown Durham before setting out on my own.  I was able to make a humble living doing my own art and furniture commissions for a couple years until in 2015 when I was accepted into the Master of Architecture program at NC State’s College of Design – becoming an architect having long been a dream of mine.  I somehow managed to survive the 3.5 year Track 3 program there and just graduated this past December (2018).  I now work full-time for Louis Cherry Architecture in the Oakwood neighborhood of Raleigh where this coming weekend we will host a pop-up art exhibition in which former UNC photography professor (and personal mentor) Susan Harbage Page will be showing her work alongside our firm’s current projects.

Needless to say, I was excited to hear this news as Susan had even written a recommendation on my behalf when I applied to NC State’s graduate architecture program.  And this coincidence combined with my recent transition to a professional career were probably the impetus which set me off down memory lane, leading me to write this email.  In closing I would like to say that although it happened in a roundabout way, the foundation I got during my time in UNC’s art department got me to where I am in my career and I look at my work as an architect as merely another facet in the same vein of the creative urge which I exercised during my time in the studio art program at UNC.  A special thanks to the all-star cast of faculty and grad students I got to know during my time there (2006-’10) and the tough but fair criticism I always received which made me a better artist and a more critical thinker.

All the best,
Kal Fadem
BFA Studio Art, BA Germanic Studies – UNC c/o 2010
M. Arch., NC State University c/o 2018

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