About Kappa Pi
In 2011, Kappa Pi entered into the 100th year of existence. What a milestone! For 100 years now, Kappa Pi has offered thousands of art students and professionals a group to call home and an umbrella under which success, talent, creativity and scholarship can be covered. In hundreds of chapters around the United States and abroad, students and professionals with a similar passion for visual art are today enjoying the excursions, lectures, exhibitions and companionship that comes from being part of a group of like-minded individuals.
The road to this point in our history has been dotted with wars, discord, changing attitudes and numerous art movements. Born at the beginning of the Blue Rider School, Kappa Pi has flourished through both widely accepted and sharply rejected artistic genres, and a part of this success can be linked to the premises on which it was founded as well as the strong leaders who served throughout the past century. Founded in 1911 at the University of Kentucky, the original concept for the fraternity was simply what might be considered a "study group" today. Several students who were more interested in their work than in the process of actually forming an organization, gathered together to discuss their personal extra-curricular dabbles in art and to provide a few friends to go out and paint with. The idea of scholarship was an underlying theme but certainly not its main intent. In fact, at this point in our history, it was not even a requirement to be a student! As long as someone was interested in the goals of the group, it did not matter if they were actively involved in the academics of college life.
For three years, the club grew and other universities showed an interest in its success. By 1914, four additional chapters had been granted charters meaning Kappa Pi groups were now organized at Center College in Kentucky, Columbia University, Vanderbilt University and Purdue. In 1916 Ohio State University joined the ranks, and in 1918 the University of Tennessee chapter was installed. It was the chapter at the University of Tennessee that proved to be the pivotal moment in recognizing Kappa Pi as an honorary society. The Zeta chapter at UT-Knoxville was the first to specify that membership was to be restricted to students of art with an occasional honorary membership granted to a working staff artist on student publications. It was also the Tennessee chapter that decided the focus should be exclusively an honorary one with emphasis on productive artwork and high scholarship in art studies. In an effort to strengthen and increase the art programs and departments at the university level, the Zeta chapter established minimum requirements for a charter to be issued ranging from the minimum students which must be initiated to the number of art programs a university offered. This set the precedent for Kappa Pi to become the International Honorary Art Fraternity it is today.
It is interesting to note that Kappa Pi has had a few of its ideas come and go over the years. The Sketch Book magazine, the official publication of Kappa Pi, made its appearance in 1935 and continues to serve its membership today. Another experiment by the officers of Kappa Pi in that same year allowed for professional groups to be granted charters based on similar interest and pursuits. The first of these was Gamma Phi, a chapter that was committed to serving the professionals of national renown who were working in the photographic arts. It basically was established to offer an honorary society for outstanding working artists in photographic fields. With the establishment of this first chapter, it opened the door for other like-wise artist's groups to join together in recognizing high achievement in a specific media. Kappa Pi became international in 1963 when a chapter was established in the Philippines, and later another international chapter was chartered in Mexico.
Justin Sturgeon, President
University of West Florida
Marzia Ransom, Treasurer
University of West Florida
Krista Bennett, VP of Membership
Visual Artist and Independent Scholar
To be announced
To be announced
Letter from the President
Let me begin by welcoming you to a wonderful community of artists and scholars!
The last year and a half has seen monumental changes for educational institutions across the world as we have learned to adapt to a rapidly changing landscape. Kappa Pi, like so many organizations during this period, has faced supply chain delays, staffing shortages, and a decline in donations.
However, rather than dwell on the difficulties we have faced, the board of directors quickly began implementing a series of changes with the aim of using this “down” period to develop a plan to improve our services to students, faculty, and our chapters.
Our first goal was to improve the response time from the home office. I am happy to say that we now answer most inquiries within one working day of receipt. In addition, we have streamlined both the membership submission process and the ordering of graduation regalia so that all orders now ship within 1-2 business days of our receipt of payment.
In the spring of 2021 we reopened Kappa Pi’s scholarship competition with great success! Applications poured in from many of our chapters, and the competition was robust. The board agreed that our art historian student members were underrepresented and we created a new scholarship aimed at recognizing their contribution to the field. I am pleased to announce that we are able to continue this tradition and that the scholarships for the 2021-2022 academic year opened on December 1, 2021.
I can also announce at this time that the popular Sketchpad publication will return in 2022. This institution was missed by many of us during the last two years, and I anticipate a packed and informative publication will be coming our way!
Finally, I would like to give you a sneak peak at what we have in the works. We have been working diligently behind the scenes to improve our services to members and further streamline the membership process. We plan on launching a new website in the near future that will feature built-in membership services, and eventually will include “members-only” areas with access to digital archives of the Sketchpad, professional networking features, and a jobs board that will post professional opportunities submitted to us that are related to careers in the visual arts. In addition, members will be able to view their current status, order regalia and other Kappa Pi themed “swag”, and even renew their membership directly.
-Justin Sturgeon, PhD
President, Kappa Pi International