This article first appeared in the summer 2018 issue of Harker Magazine
When Kevin Saxon ’10 walked onto Harker’s upper school campus as a freshman, he didn’t know what his passion was – but by his junior year, he had found his happy place in the art department.
“His passion for art was completely evident when he was in the upper school art program,” said Pilar Agüero-Esparza, visual arts teacher. “He was a soft-spoken and thoughtful student who had tremendous patience and perseverance to see his projects to fruition.”
Saxon’s path to the art department was gradual, unfolding over the course of a few years. “I did fine on my academic subjects, but I didn’t push myself there,” reflected Saxon in his forthright manner. “But I would totally wake up when it was time for art class and definitely found my groove there.”
But “art” is a broad term and Saxon felt he found his creative side a little late, so he wasn’t entirely sure what direction his newfound passion would take him. When he was applying to college, he hedged his bets and applied mostly to traditional universities and a few art schools, including the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design.
“I was totally blown away when I got into RISD – it was my stretch school!” said Saxon. “I never would have even thought about art school if it wasn’t for Ms. Agüero-Esparza and Mr. [Jaap] Bongers,” chair of the visual arts department at Harker.
He decided to study architecture, because he thought it was more practical and could provide a better career path. But after his freshman year and an internship in architecture, he realized it wasn’t for him.
“I could tell that it was a painful realization for him as he had invested a lot of thought and hopes on becoming an architect but it wasn’t working out as he had imagined,” said Agüero- Esparza, who was so proud of Saxon for not giving up despite the disappointment he was facing.
Saxon stepped back from architecture, cleared his head and found himself drawn to furniture design. “I like working with my hands and think of myself as more of a designer than an artist,” said Saxon, who appreciated the small, tight-knit feel of the furniture design industry.
“I enjoy taking an idea, going through the process of figuring it out and executing to the end.” This ability to take a project from concept to completion is how Saxon became an exhibit fabricator at the Children’s Discovery Museum in San Jose.
“Kevin brings a wealth of talent and knowledge and has been an amazing asset ever since he joined CDM last summer,” said Rich Turner, the museum’s director of exhibits and facilities. “Kevin, a talented artist and engineer, brings a fantastic background stemming from Harker and the Rhode Island School of Design, where he excelled at furniture design.”
Saxon hit the ground running when he started his new job, because CDM was nearly doubling the museum’s exhibit space with an outdoor expansion that included Bill’s Backyard: Bridge to Nature. Bill’s Backyard inspires children to spend time outside climbing, building, digging and getting dirty while exploring the natural elements. This was a perfect project for Saxon, since he loves the outdoors and enjoys hiking, camping and traveling.
“I really like my work at CDM because there is something new every day,” Saxon said. “I’m not sure what the future holds, but I do know I’ll make the best of every situation and that I like to do things my own way.”
Vikki Bowes-Mok is also the executive director of the community nonprofit Compass Collective.