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Alumna and UD staff member Tanya Kang has shot photos of Pearl Jam fans all over the country — here, she’s pictured at Niagara Falls — for her book “I am Mine: Pearl Jam Fan Portraits.”
Whenever her plane landed at 6 or 7 a.m., Tanya Kang, University of Delaware Class of 2004, would drive straight from the Philadelphia Airport to her nine-to-five job at UD (she’s held several roles, most recently as an academic coordinator for the English Department). The exhaustion may have been tough, but it resulted in a longtime dream come true. After a journey that’s taken her to three countries, 36 cities and 25 states, Kang has finally published her book, I am Mine: Pearl Jam Fan Portraits.
You could say the creative project began at UD. As an undergraduate, the Blue Hen took her first photography class, and she discovered a love for the craft. Years later, she would pair that love with her other passion: traveling to see her favorite band perform.
In 2012, wanting to document their devotion, Kang began taking portraits of fellow Pearl Jam fanatics. Over the course of 50 shows and one decade, she asked subjects to share a favorite lyric, and she collected the emotional stories behind these selections. From 1,000 concert goers in Mexico, Canada and across the U.S., she heard all the ways Pearl Jam music has helped people through their highest and lowest moments: losing friends, overcoming cancer, finding love.
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Tanya Kang, pictured here, poses with one of her favorite Pearl Jam lyrics, from the song “Breakerfall.”
The study abroad trips Kang took as a student to Spain and Japan? “They made me comfortable going places on my own and meeting new people — the traits I needed to complete this project,” she said.
Kang taught herself how to use the Adobe InDesign software that she used to design and layout the book. She plugged away — often into the wee hours of the morning — even after getting married and having her son, Arlo, in 2020 (look for his fan portrait in the book). Then she launched the Kickstarter campaign that raised more than $22,000 from 270 backers. The first printing of the book, over 300 copies, went out in March to eager readers in Australia, Mexico, Peru, Germany, Poland, Norway and other countries.
But Kang isn’t done yet.
“I do feel a sense of relief that this is finally completed, because it was a dream for so long,” she says. “I don’t know what’s next — but of course I’ll see them perform again.”
Kang raised more than $22,000 for the publication of her book, “I am Mine: Pearl Jam Fan Portraits.”
Article by Diane Stopyra
Photos courtesy of Tanya Kang
December 20, 2023