Grad creates ‘candyland’

Candy Depew changed her last name to ‘Coated’ because of her love for decorating, a passion that has driven her work as an artist. 

The Tyler alumna graduated with her MFA in 1997 and has since been building her empire of all things “candy coated.”

“I was a ballerina for 15 years,” Coated said. “When I was younger I always loved decorative arts, and I like how historic art continues through contemporary art. That’s how my interest in art formed.”

Taking her lifelong passion for art and her unique style, Coated has developed a wide range of work in everything from silk-screen printing to creating her own flavor of ice cream.

Most recently she has an exhibition of her work at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, running until Nov. 17. The exhibit, “Candy Coated Wonderland,”  is a revamp of a collection of fairytale dresses in Coated’s own style. It will also feature a collection of her silk-screen prints, patterned wallpaper and various other forms of her work.

She also shared her work with students on Oct. 11 and 12.

“I [participated] in the Art Market at Tyler,” Coated said. “We [sold] a chair that I designed, to raise money for the DesignPhiladelphia program. We [also hosted] a pop-up shop and will be working on silk-screen prints.”

Coated’s involvement in the art world goes beyond creation. She said one of her largest projects, also in partnership with Design Philly, was to host Wanderlusting, though the website lists the event as cancelled.

“Wanderlusting is a kind of tour of Old City, but it’s also a fashion show and lecture mixed together,” she said of the previously scheduled event.

Wanderlusting would have represented this interactive combination of her work. She is also making an effort to incorporate philanthropic efforts into her work, she said.

“Right now, I am working a lot with the concept of the power of 10,” Coated said. “I created an ice cream flavor in partnership with Little Baby’s Ice Cream, Jazzmarnier. Ten percent of the profits will go to feeding people with little food.”

While she admits that she creates her art first and foremost, another crucial part of Candy Coated is helping others realize their full potential.

“I have established my own school, the School of Decorative Arts and Design,” Coated said. “People come [to my studio] for apprenticeships and so were creating jobs as well.”

The school will be expanding as Candy Coated moves to its new location, MakeShift Studios, over the course of this month.

Coated said she has taught more than 2,500 people from all over the world. She said her efforts were focused on helping many people of all different backgrounds, who were never given a chance to realize their capabilities.

“People learn better with one-on-one attention,” she said.This desire to promote positivity in a learning environment has been influenced by personal experiences that Coated has had with negative social situations.

Many of those experiences began with her name, she said.

“People would always tease me about my name,” she said. “But I love decorating things so I decided to change my name to from Candy Depew to Candy Coated. I thought I should use it for something productive.”

Alexa Bricker can be reached at alexa.bricker@temple.edu.

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