×

Work by Amherst artist Kamil Peters can be seen throughout the valley

  • Metal sculptor Kamil Peters creates a mask from a propane tank at his Diesel Works workshop in Holyoke. FOR THE RECORDER/SARAH CROSBY

  • The exterior of Diesel Works, Kamil Peters’ workshop in Holyoke. FOR THE RECORDER/SARAH CROSBY

  • Metal sculptor Kamil Peters, right, advises a student at his Diesel Works studio in Holyoke. FOR THE RECORDER/SARAH CROSBY

  • Metal sculptor Kamil Peters works on a mask, made from an old propane tank, at his Diesel Works studio in Holyoke. FOR THE RECORDER/SARAH CROSBY

  • Metal sculptor Kamil Peters create a mask from a propane tank at his Diesel Works studio in Holyoke. FOR THE RECORDER/SARAH CROSBY

  • Metal sculptor Kamil Peters poses with his pieces “Emancipation,” left, “Ronin,” top right, and “Ogun,” bottom right, at his Diesel Works studio in Holyoke. FOR THE RECORDER/SARAH CROSBY



For the Recorder
Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Kamil Peters has a way with metal and reclaimed wood. With his welding torch, the Amherst artist, who works in Holyoke, makes signposts and furniture, stairway banisters, ornate masks and freestanding sculptures. His work has been seen all around the valley, from a giant praying mantis at “Art in the Orchard” in Easthampton to the distinctive sign for Mission Cantina, the Mexican restaurant in Amherst.

Peters, a 2010 graduate of Hampshire College, says he’s working to feed his family “doing the work I love.” It might not be easy, he says, but it feels vital. “I try to create pieces that people will love and cherish with some type of connection to their lives. I also focus a lot on teaching this medium to others, from high school kids to adults.”

Steve Pfarrer: Talk about the work you’re currently doing. What does it involve, and what are you trying to achieve?

Kamil Peters: I’m currently doing a variety of commercial and residential jobs. One is six benches for Springfield, Vermont, each one speaking to the history of the town based on stories from local residents. For a private client, I’m making a coffee table, a TV stand and a wine cart from reclaimed wood and rebar steel. I’m also restoring some historical lamps from Holyoke Town Hall.

SP: What do you draw inspiration from? Do you ever have any “Eureka!” moments?

KP: I draw inspiration from found objects — my heart is more about a reaction to a pre-existing object in order to achieve a goal, whether it’s making a piece of furniture or an abstract sculpture. The eureka moments are constant in my life due to this style of work.

SP: How do you know when your work is finished?

KP: My work is finished when I think aesthetically it looks good. There’s a level of saturation needed by certain pieces, and sometimes simplicity is the answer. Being able to navigate between those two worlds is something I’m working on making my specialty.

SP: Have you ever had a “mistake” — a project that seemed to be going south — turn into a wonderful discovery instead?

KP: In the art world, I believe there’s no such thing as a mistake, as much as being able to have a reaction to a specific quality or texture of a piece. I find myself regularly using mistakes — I would almost say a mistake is as much a part of the art as the purposeful intention.

SP: Name two artists you admire or who have influenced your work. What about their art appeals to you?

KP: Dorrance Hill, a local metal sculptor I haven’t met but whose work speaks of the struggles African-Americans have been through; my work parallels that same concept. And my mentor, Charles Winkler, taught me everything I know.

SP: If you weren’t an artist, what do you think you’d be?

KP: Probably a real jerk. I guess if NASA was hiring people without qualifications, I would do that.

SP: What’s your go-to snack while you’re working?

KP: I’m a starving artist — there is no eating at work.

SP: Do you listen to music while you’re working? What kind?

KP: It depends on the mood. People in the mix include Miles Davis, Nina Simone, Howling Wolf, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley and Babatunde Olatunji. Also good hip-hop and soca.

For more information about Kamil Peters, visit: kamilpeters.com.