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In memory of Thomas Kass

Thomas ‘Tom’ Kass (1936-2022), Professor Emeritus at the University of Utah College of Architecture + Planning, Distinguished Professor Teaching Award 1979, ACSA Distinguished Professor, and a fellow at the MIT Center for Advanced Visual Studies passed away on Tuesday, July 26.

Kass, a firm believer in studying various disciplines, was a recognized painter and beloved teacher, remembered for his 37 years of teaching at the University of Utah.

“He was a jovial professor who pushed his students to achieve their best in all they did,” said Patrick Tipeny, Professor at the University of Utah School of Architecture. “Every student for almost four decades had Tom in their first year in the program. He was the bar that the rest of us were measured by. My favorite saying I heard Tom tell students many times was, ‘There is no one answer to your designs; seek it wisely.’  I will miss Tom as he was a friend and a colleague.”

Professor Emeritus Kass studied sculpture at Cooper Union before moving on to Yale, where he studied under the direction and recommendation of Josef Albers. Upon completing his BFA at Yale, Kass studied sculpture at the University of Washington.

In an article by Utah’s Art Magazine published by the nonprofit organization Artists of Utah, Kass was acclaimed for his artwork and legacy. “Kass creates paintings so subtle they seem to levitate in the spaces where they are installed. If you take the time, an amazing array of information, beauty, and understanding starts to emerge. Kass is a fan of layering pigment and reworking a painting until it is solid and stands on its own. Since his background is in sculpture and he works in the field of architecture, he tends to think of the two-dimensional plane as a three-dimensional space.”

Influenced by the postwar art movements by which he was surrounded in his early days, and his background in sculpture and architecture, Kass “tends to think of the two-dimensional plane as a three-dimensional space. Like the good traveler, the artist, architect, or designer may have a destination- a plan- which he desires to achieve, but the plan should not be rigid in its conception.”

As the article mentions, “the life of Tom Kass is an inspiration. He makes spaces for people to live their lives — where movement, joy, stories and memories are made.”

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