Artists Past & Present

Blake Ketchum



I was born near Detroit, Michigan in 1967. My family moved to rural northern Michigan when I was young. As a quick and stubborn kid, I was eager to move on to new things. I dropped out of high school and left home to attend the University of Michigan at the age of 16. I graduated with a BFA in Sculpture in 1988.


After my BFA, I started Sculpture Laboratory; the small business built exhibits for science centers, provided architectural ornament for Byzantine Orthodox churches, and provided scenic sculpture for a number of theaters throughout the US. Among my clients were Yale, International Special Olympics, Cornell Alumni Association, and Case-Western Reserve University.


The projects for the science centers whet my appetite for science, so I attended graduate school earning an MS in Forestry (Michigan Tech) and a PhD in Soil Science (Washington State University). I worked as a geochemist for 2 years, but rhyme triumphed over reason and I quickly returned to my enduring passion, portrait sculpture.


Today, I teach online art classes at Penn State University and have plenty of time for my portrait sculpture. Co-Founding the PSSA with Heidi and Stuart gives me hope that there will always be great sculptors to satisfy the need for excellence in portraiture.


Artist Statement

I use portraits to share my ideas and ideals. My goal is to contribute to a sense of unity and empowerment among people that is sorely lacking in our world community. When I develop a portrait, I consider my impression of the whole, the Gestalt of the person. Through a portrait, even when only a bust, I try to convey everything from an individual’s posture and manner, to what personality characteristics I find most worth preserving or sharing.


The human head is an outstanding communication device. People are born with an innate ability to form and read facial expression. Unlike verbal language, facial expressions don’t need to be learned and are universal among peoples. Through portraiture, my ideas are accessible to all.

Blake Ketchum