As a medium, an expression and a creation, sculpture provides Wade Kavanaugh '01 with a way of interacting with the world around him.

Although Kavanaugh's interest in and passion for the visual arts existed long before college, he developed a relationship with sculpture while at Bowdoin, where he majored in economics and minored in visual arts.

In his minor, Kavanugh focused primarily on sculpture classes with Lecturer in Art John Bisbee.

"[Bisbee's] sculpture classes were something totally different than anything I'd experienced before with art," said Kavanaugh. "I remember so specifically the first thing that really got me, which was this collaborative project where three people had to build a tower out of newspaper and masking tape that touched the ceiling in the Union."

"It was supposed to be this 60-foot tower-a prospect far beyond what I thought was possible," Kavanaugh added. "I just remember having this crucial moment when all of a sudden we put this thing up and it looked like it was going to fall and then it snapped into place, pushing right up against the union ceiling. It was the first time I'd experienced that completely unbelievable energy you get out of finishing something that, at first, seemed utterly ridiculous."

By the end of his time at Bowdoin, Kavanaugh had taken Sculpture I and II, as well as two independent studies and faced a challenging decision about where his academic interests would take him upon graduation.

"I had this great moment as a senior—a really formative moment—when I had to decide between taking a position teaching art at Gould Academy for the summer or working in economic consulting," said Kavanaugh.

"I just remember really, really freaking out about which to pursue and it was at that moment that [A. LeRoy Greason Professor of Art] Mark Wethli and John Bisbee took me out to lunch," he added. "They sat me down and said 'You can do this. If you want to do art, you can really do this.' It was a big moment for me to have these two guys I respected so very much say that to me."

Consequently, Kavanaugh accepted the teaching position at Gould Academy, a job that provided him with the means to keep making art.

Of that stage of his work, Kavanaugh said "I'm not really sure how to exactly describe the type of work I was doing at Bowdoin and then continued to do at Gould. It was all over the place, really, but I would say I was mostly exploring the possibility of natural materials and where my interest diverged in working with different materials."

"Working at Gould was really great for me, both in the fact that it allowed that type of artistic [exploration] and also because it allowed me a lot of solitary time to reflect on what the craziness of being in school was really about," Kavanaugh added.

After leaving Gould, Kavanaugh opted against art school.

"I applied to graduate school for art. I got in. I was about to go and then I got freaked out and moved to Brooklyn, a decision that turned out to be one of the best I've ever made," he said.

With the move came a drastic shift in Kavanaugh's art as well.

"I started to focus on more man-made materials, but mostly I just got a lot more serious about art," he said. "It became the primary thing I did, and everything I was doing was organized around making this art happen. Showing my work became all I wanted to do and so I just sent things out like crazy."

As his time in Brooklyn lengthened, Kavanaugh began to focus exclusively on making works that were site-specific, one example being the pieces he created for his show in the Coleman Burke Gallery in Fort Andross the summer of 2007.

"It's a mode of making things that came out of trying to pay attention to how people perceive space," Kavanaugh said. "There are so many things that influence how you perceive the space and the sculpture as an extension of that space—the quality of light, the architecture, the materials. Making these pieces for a specific space seems to be the most important thing to me about contemporary art."

In addition to working independently as a sculptor, Kavanaugh has collaborated with Stephen Nguyen, a painter he met in 2005 through former Bowdoin Visiting Assistant Professor of Art Anna Hepler.

Kavanaugh explained his collaborative work to be a extremely influential in his understanding of his role as an artist.

"When you work with someone else, you have to really articulate what you want," he said. "There's always that moment where you realize by talking with someone that maybe what you're trying to do is not that effective. In the end, you get to realize a lot about how your ideas are perceived by other people."

"What's great is being able to have my own individual art practice and then this entirely different entity with Stephen where we start from nothing and try to build a project together," Kavanaugh added.

Kavanaugh's and Nguyen's most recent joint work is an installation titled "The Experience of Green," made from seven square miles of red craft paper. The work has been met with tremendous praise and is currently on view in the DUMBO Arts Center in Brooklyn through November 29.

"It's been amazing watching people interact with this piece," Kavanaugh said of his recent installation. "You can just tell that when people walk up to the work that their response is overwhelmingly sincere. It would be pretentious to say that we have an effect on how people feel, but there's still something really authentic about the experience you're having as a viewer. And that's all I can ever really ask for."

With "The Experience of Green," art enthusiasts have a unique opportunity to support the artistic endeavors of a Bowdoin alumnus. Through the Web site Kickstarter, a new model for micro-philanthropy in which donors can join together to fund artists' projects, Kavanaugh and Nguyen are raising money to make a color catalogue to keep the installation alive long after its taken down.