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Kate VanVliet: Heirloom Machine

Posted on October 13 2023

Kate VanVliet: Heirloom Machine 
November 3 – November 26 

All artwork available to view/purchase here.

Paradigm Gallery + Studio is pleased to present Heirloom Machine, a solo show of assembled sculptures and etchings by printmaker Kate VanVliet. Heirloom Machine will feature an expansion of VanVliet’s ongoing Fault Line series sculptures in conversation with her intaglio prints. In her debut solo with Paradigm, VanVliet explores the idea of becoming an heirloom machine, creating and collecting important small objects, while examining her role as an artist and mother. VanVliet plays with the idea of absurdity in ritual as she compares the meticulous repair of everyday objects like eggs to the historically unseen labor of women's work. By utilizing craft in the treatment of found objects, VanVliet creates a dialogue on what constitutes an heirloom and the significance of historical convention. Heirloom Machine will be on view on the second floor of the Paradigm Arts Building (12 N 3rd St) from November 3 through November 26, 2023, with a public opening reception on Friday, November 3 from 6:00-8:00 pm.

VanVliet’s process stems from her lifelong penchant for collecting discarded objects; reflecting on the classification of value, the passage of time, and the craft each object displays. Her particular interest in the leftovers of daily routine forms the foundation of her current body of work, constructed to pair disparate objects with one another, like wooden beams, steel rods, and mesh. The intentional assembly that fits her sculptures together comes from her discipline of printmaking. VanVliet curates her library of artifacts through her etchings, studying textures and composition while embracing the limited color palette dictated by the intaglio process, allowing the material to be the main focus. VanVliet will be unveiling a new collection of more than a dozen etchings that echo the surrealism of found objects with varying levels of sentimentality. These vignettes employ nostalgia to inspire a stream of references that flow throughout each work. Musicality in the compositions of the prints, as well as their display, allows visitors to see a greater narrative throughout the exhibition.

When sketching forms and testing ways of construction, VanVliet searches for functional objects that support the aesthetics of the whole structure, as shown in See the Sky About to Rain, featuring 112 Fault Line eggs counterweighted on a wooden beam with an etched brass ball. VanVliet resorts to traditional craft and coincidental convergences to position her materials together. VanVliet marries the deliberate nature and repeated action of printmaking with the spontaneity and chaos of found object assemblage. In her Fault Lines series, VanVliet uses eggs to catalog her days working as an artist and as a new mother. After the ritual of preparing breakfast for her family, VanVliet was struck by the image of broken eggshells piling up on her counter and read them as evidence of cultivation. VanVliet explains: “When I became a mother, I found myself in this ritualistic madness, each day repeating the day before and hoping for a different result. As the leftovers of those actions accumulated on my kitchen counter, I saw that my life had become an open edition of the same but different days.” After the usual day of working/caregiving, VanVliet takes advantage of the quiet hours when the family is asleep to meticulously clean, sanitize, match, and repair each egg with mica as if it were a precious piece of porcelain, bringing the ordinarily invisible labor of domestic work to light. Through Fault Lines, VanVliet embraces flaws and lived experience through visible mending over invisible repair. The value of her created heirlooms is derived from the skills she has acquired as an artist and from her experiences as a mother.

Opening during CraftNOW, a convergence of craft shows in Philadelphia, Heirloom Machine aims to broaden the definition of craft to a way of working as opposed to being a foil to fine art. VanVliet uses her “fine craft mentality” for storytelling and cataloging, but most importantly to say that an heirloom does not have to be a precious ring or a watch, it can come from the everyday.

Friday, November 3, 2023
6:00 – 8:00 PM


Sunday, November 5th • 1:00pm
*RSVPs are required to guarantee seating.


Thursdays • 10 AM – 6 PM
Fridays • 10 AM – 6 PM
Saturdays • 11 AM – 6 PM
Sundays • 11 AM – 5 PM
And 7 days a week by appointment.

12 N 3rd St
Philadelphia, PA 19106

For all inquiries contact

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About Kate VanVliet
Kate VanVliet is a sculptor and printmaker practicing from her home studio in Elkins Park, PA, and at BYO Print in Philadelphia. She earned her BFA in 2007 in sculpture and printmaking at Moore College of Art & Design before co-founding BYO Print in 2010, a collective of printmakers and shared community printshop. With the support of her co-directors, VanVliet transformed BYO Print into BYO Printmaking Collaborative, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, in 2023.
VanVliet was a resident at Vermont Studio Center in 2017 and was the 2018 - 2019 printmaker in residence at Cheltenham Arts Center. Her work is in numerous private and public collections including The Free Library of Philadelphia, SGCI Archives at Zuckerman Museum of Art, William Penn Foundation, Bowes Art & Architecture Library at Stanford University and Moore College of Art & Design. She teaches printmaking at Cheltenham Arts Center, Second State Press, and offers one-on-one tutoring at BYO Print.

About Paradigm Gallery + Studio
Paradigm Gallery + Studio® was established in 2010 by co-founders and curators, Jason Chen and Sara McCorriston. The gallery exhibits meaningful, process-intense contemporary artwork by emerging and mid-career artists from around the world. In 2022, Paradigm announced the opening of its new 5-story, 7,000 sq. ft. home, The Paradigm Arts Building, in Old City, Philadelphia. Now open to the public, the building boasts multiple floors of exhibition space, integrated in-house design and printmaking, a dedicated events floor, and art advisory offices. With this, Chen and McCorriston expanded their vision for the greater Philadelphia arts community. The gallery is at the heart of this vision, anchoring Paradigm’s overall mission of increasing access to the commercial art world, supporting artists and advancing their careers, and collaborating with like-minded partners to build a more equitable, sustainable arts economy for all.