The Artistic and Authentic Life of Shand Stamper


Dawntashia Alexander, student reporter

Klara (Shand) Stamper is one of the several art teachers here at McCracken County High School. Stamper teaches a wide range of classes art classes, from beginner classes like Art 1 to more advanced and complex classes like Jewelry and Metalsmithing. Although she does teach less advanced or beginner classes like Art 1, Stamper is actually an advanced artist herself. 

Outside of being a teacher, Stamper does a wide variety of things, practically all of which are related to art or metalsmithing. Stamper has a Masters Degree in Metalsmithing and owns her own small business, for which she creates her own jewelery and sells it to customers. Up until this month, Stamper was a member of the Paducah City’s Creative and Cultural Council, which is an advisory board of the mayor of the city. The group was formed to make decisions regarding the state of the arts in Paducah, and Stamper was the Secritary of the board. 

Stamper got her first degree in Sculpture and Ceramics from the University of Southern Mississippi, which was close to her roots. Stamper grew up in the south, where she first found and explored her love of art. Her current husband and she both lived deep in the south, and after Hurrican Katrina, they ended up evacuating Mississippi and moving to Tennessee. Stamper stated that she and her current husband have moved around a lot, saying that they moved from Tennessee to North Carolina, where she completed grad school and her husband got his first teaching job. 

Outside of her occupation as an artist, Stamper says that she is a wife and a mother. She encourages her daughter to express herself in ways that are comfortable and familiar to her, and like Stamper, her daughter enjoys art as well. 

Speaking of being a wife, Stamper is married to another art teacher at McCracken County High School, Mitch Kimball. While Stamper is more into the Jewelry and Metalsmithing aspects of art, Kimball is more into Sculpting and Ceramics. They both moved to Kentucky together, where they received an incentive of up to one thousand dollars in architect fees. “Looking back, it wasn’t much of an incentive, but there were all of these opportunities and all of this programming.” Stamper said in an interview with one of Student Reporters. 

Stamper stated that, like many artists, she wanted to be a part of something more. The depth and variety of art is one of the most common reasons that artists do what they do, and Stamper is no different. “There are people who draw and paint or do sculpting or mold clay, and I applaud them for that, like I genuinely do love that for them because any art can be difficult, but I wanted to do something that would never be forgotten. Making things like heirlooms makes that possible.” Stamper says. 

Stamper says that one of her favorite and most important things about her occupation is the history, nostalgia, and the emotional significance that comes with making jewelry. Stamper says, “People use jewelry to mark occasions, and to me, I wanted to pe a part of a lasting tradition.”

When asked to elaborate on her interest in Jewelry and Metalsmithing, Stamper mentioned that growing up in the south in the time period that she did, which was the 90s,  made it difficult for her to own a lot of the jewelry that she wanted to own and wear. She eventually started making jewelry herself and found a deep love for the art, which is what pushed her to get her Masters Degree in Metalsmithing. 

With her job as a high school art teacher and the small jewelry business she owns and runs outside of school, Stamper’s life is pretty much packed to the brim with all things art related, like almost every artist.

Stamper says that she studied under four full-time metalsmiths that were incredible artists who she not only learned a lot from, but developed a deep respect for them due to their amazing teaching. 

After multiple moves, numerous years of school, and a budding love for art that never seems to stop growing, Stamper says that she has learned a lot and is very good at what she does. “I could just as easily take a button from your grandfather’s coat and make you a nice piece of jewelery out of that as I could a ten karat diamond, with just as much precision and skill, which is important to me.” Stamper stated in her interview, essentially showing just how distinguished she is when it comes to jewelry making and metalsmithing. 

Personality wise, Stamper is a very unique and free spirited person. Being a student in one of her classes is not only a learning experience, but an honor. Stamper is patient with her students and allows them so express themselves through their art, which for teenage high school students, may be difficult. 

Stamper encourages students and people in general to be themselves with no remorse, and has collected a lot of wise advice over her years. One of Stamper’s former students, who may not be named due to their preference of anonymity, says that being in Stamper’s class actually helped them mentally.

“Stamper is a great teacher, of course, but she actually cares about her students. I think that being in her class and being able to talk to her about a lot of things that I couldn’t talk to other teachers about really helped me get to where I am today.” The anonymous student stated. “She listens to what her students are saying and she offers real life advice instead of downplaying her students emotions and feelings simply because they’re teenagers.”

After asking a few other students who had Stamper as a teacher, there was a lot of positive feedback regarding Stamper as not only an educator but also as a person.

It is obvious that Stamper is a very influential person as an educator, an artist, a mother, a wife, and just as a person in general. Artists and artistic people are often labeled as some of the most interesting and down to earth people, and Stamper fits that description well.