Fall 2012/Spring 2013

The Kansas City Art Institute is pleased to announce the spring 2013 lineup of artists, designers and scholars who will speak as part of the college's "Current Perspectives."

Unless otherwise noted, all lectures are free and open to the public and will be held at 7 p.m. Thursdays in Epperson Auditorium, Vanderslice Hall on the KCAI campus, 4415 Warwick Blvd., Kansas City, Mo.

Spring 2013

Jan. 31: The Xijing Men: Tsuyoshi Ozawa, Chen Shaoxiong and Gimhongsok

Co-sponsored by the H&R Block Artspace at KCAI and the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. 

The Xijing Men produce video art performances about the imaginary place of Xijing, which was conceived as an idealized western capital, meant to complement three other directional capitals of East Asia: Beijing, the northern capital; Nanjing, the southern capital; and Tokyo, the eastern capital. Since forming in 2006, the Xijing Men, Tsuyoshi Ozawa (Japan), Chen Shaoxiong (China) and Gimhongsok (Korea), have staged scenarios drawing heaviliy on absurdity, satire, sarcasm and humor. Their visit is part of a 10-day residency to create and install new work to be exhibited at the H&R Block Artspace Feb. 2-April 3.

Feb. 7: Faculty grant recipients

Marty Maxwell Lane, assistant professor of graphic design; Hugh Merrill, professor of printmaking; Brett Reif, foundation professor; Phyllis Moore, Ph.D., associate professor and director of the School of Liberal Arts; and Alison Heryer, fiber instructor, will discuss projects underwritten by recent faculty grants.

Pictured: Current Perspectives presentation in Epperson Auditorium

Feb. 14: Nathan Fox

Sponsored by the illustration department.

Nathan Fox ('97 illustration) is chair of the M.F.A. program in visual narrative at the School of Visual Arts in New York, where he pursued graduate studies in the "Illustration as Visual Essay" program after earning a B.F.A. degree in illustration from KCAI.

Fox has been a freelance illustrator and storyteller whose work has appeared in The New York Times, the New York Times Magazine, Interview, The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Wired, ESPN Magazine, Print, Entertainment Weekly, Mother Jones, Spin, Mad Magazine, MTV Store Windows and T-shirts, Burton US Open 2009, Instant Winner and REAL Skateboards, DC Comics, Vertigo, Dark Horse Comics, Marvel and many other publications and media.

For more information, visit www.foxnathan.com.

Pictured: "C'Est Bon" by Nathan Fox (2006)


Feb. 21: Ross Sawyers

Sponsored by the photography and digital filmmaking department

Ross Sawyers ('03 photography) began his career as an educator teaching photography at KCAI and then at the University of Washington in Seattle and the University of California-Riverside.

His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally at venues including the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art; the Henry Art Museum in Seattle; and the Tacoma Art Museum in Washington. In 2011, he presented his third solo exhibition at Platform Gallery in Seattle.

His work is included in numerous public and private collections, including the Hallmark Photographic Collection, the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago and the Joseph and Elaine Monsen Collection.

Sawyers holds an M.F.A. degree in photography from the University of Washington and a B.f.A. degree in photography from KCAI. He lives in Chiago, where he is an assistant professor of photography at Columbia College Chicago. For more information, visit www.rossawyers.com.

Pictured: Untitled, by Ross Sawyers

Feb. 28: Matthias Pliessnig

Matthias Pliessnig's fluid, skeletal furniture forms are made using traditional steam-bending techniques with oak wood. Human interaction imposed by the furniture's inherent structure intrigues Pleissnig and is reflected in his one-of-a-kind bench designs. his interest in bending wood developed in 2006 after he created a boat.

A sculptor and woodworker, Pliessnig studied sculpture at KCAI and earned a b.F.A. degree in furniture design from the Rhode Island School of Design. He earned an M.F.A. degree in woodworking in 2009 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Pliessnig has received national attention for his work and is considered one of the top artists/designers working with wood today. In 2008, he received a grant for his M.F.A. project from the Joan Mitchell Foundation and in the same year was given the Best of the Year Award for lounge seating by Interior Design Magazine. In 2009, he received a grant from the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, and his work was purchased by the Museum of Art and Design for their permanent collection. In 2010, he received a United States Artists Award. Most recently, the Smithsonian and Renwick Gallery chose eight pieces of his work to be included in the prestigious Renwick Craft Invitational. He was one of four artists selected who represent the forefront of contemporary craft and design.

For more information, visit www.matthias-studio.com.

Pictured: "Rivulet," Matthias Pliessnig, 2009, steam bent white oak, 96 inches by 35 inches by 28 inches 

March 7: Juliana Spahr

Co-sponsored by the School of Liberal Arts

Juliana Spahr is the author of many influential works of poetry and prose, including "Well Then There Now," "The Incinerator," "The Transformation," "This Connection of Everyone with Lungs," "Everybody's autonomy," "Fuck You - Aloha - I Love You" and "Response."

She co-founded the journal "Chain" with Jena Osman in 1993 and has edited numerous essay collections and anthologies, including "Poetry and pedagogy: The Challenge of the Contemporary," as well as "American Women Poets in the 21st Century."

A National Poetry Series Award winner, two-time winner of the Gertrude Stein Award in Innovative American Poetry, four-time NEA grant recipient, Fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies and winner of the Folger Library's Hardison Poetry Priz, Spahr is the Aurelia Henry Reinhardt chair of the English department at Mills College in Oakland, Calif.

Pictured: "Chillicothe," Juliana Spahr, 2011, self-portrait.

March 14: Mike Weikert

Co-sponsored by the graphic design department

Mike Weikert is the founder and director of two programs at the Maryland Institute College of Art: the Master of Arts in Social Design program and the Center for Design Practice. The M.A. in Social Design is an immersive, project-based program exploring the designer's role and responsibility in society, with outside organizations to examine challenges facing our communities. Weikert has his own design studio in Baltimore, Weikert Design, and serves as an advisor to Project M, an international social design initiative committed to helping young designers use their skills to create positive change in the world.

Previously he served as co-chair of the graphic design department at MICA and as a partner and creative director at the Atlanta-based Iconologic, and he was a design consultant to the International Olympic Committee. He also has worked as a designer with Pentagram and taught graphic design and branding at the Portfolio Center in Atlanta. In 2011, he was nominated for the 2011 Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award.

His work has been recognized in many publications, including Baltimore Mgazine, Communication Arts, GOOD Magazine, Graphic Design USA and others, and his work has appeared in design books including "Design Alliance," "Designing for Social Change: Strategies for Community-Based Graphic Design," and "Referenced: A Visual Guide to the Language, Applications and History of Graphic Design.

Pictured: Mike Weikert

March 28: Theaster Gates

Co-sponsored by the painting department

Theaster Gates has developed a practice that ranges from object-making and installation work to full-scale real estate development in coordination and collaboration with communities and arts organizations. His practice is a model of multicultural interactions.

Gates’s training as an urban planner and sculptor, and subsequent time spent studying clay has given him keen awareness of the poetics of production and systems of organizing. Playing with these poetic and systematic interests, Gates has assembled gospel choirs, formed temporary unions and used systems of mass production as a way of underscoring the need that industry has for the body.

Recent exhibition and performance venues include Locust Projects, Miami; the Seattle Art Museum; Art Basel Miami Beach; Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art; Milwaukee Art Museum; Contemporary Arts Museum Houston; and the Whitney Biennial and Armory Show in New York.

Gates was a participating artist in dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel, Germany, with his "12 Ballads for Huguenot House," In Fall 2012, Gates debuted in London with his solo show "My Labor is My Protest" at White Cube Bermondsey.

Gates was recently awarded the inaugural Vera List Center Prize for Art and Politics, honored by the Wall Street Journal as Arts Innovator of the Year and commissioned as the Armory Show Artist 2012. USA Artists named him as the USA Kippy Fellow 2012. A Loeb Fellow at Harvard Graduate School of Design in 2011, Gates has received awards and grants from Creative Capital, the Joyce Foundation, Graham Foundation, Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts and Artadia. Gates is represented by Kavi Gupta Gallery in Chicago and White Cube in London.

For more information, visit http://theastergates.com/home.html.  

April 4: Luis Camnitzer

Co-sponsored by the printmaking department

One of the founders of the New York Graphic Workshop, Luis Camnitzer has served as curator for the Viewing Program at the Drawing Center and is currently a professor emeritus at SUNY College at Old Westbury as well as pedagogical curator for the Ibere Camargo Foundation in Porto Alegre, Brazil. An influential critic and theorist, Camnitzer is a frequent contributor to "Art Nexus" and author of "New Art of Cuba" as well as "Conceptualism in Latin American Art: Didactic of Liberation."

Camnitzer studied sculpture and architecture at the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes (National School of Fine Arts) in Montevideo's Universidad de la Republica and later won a grant to study at the Academy of Munich. In 1961, he received a Guggenheim fellowship in printmaking and three years later settled in New York, where he continues to live and work.

For more information about his work, visit www.alexandergray.com/artists/luis-camnitzer/.

Pictured: "Landscape as an Attitude," Luis Camnitzer, 1979, silver gelatin print, 8 inches by 10 inches.

April 11: Shawn Spangler

Sponsored by the ceramics department

Shawn Spangler earned an M.F.A. degree from Alfred University in New York and recently finished a residency at The Clay Studio in Philadelphia. He has taught workshops at numerous art centers, colleges and universities throughout the United States and is currently a visiting assistant professor at Western Illinois University.

His wheel-thrown porcelain forms are complex, yet clearly articulated, oftentimes created through the combination of multiple parts. the forms are reminiscent of both the Koryo and Song dynasites, examples he observed as a resident artist in China in 2002. His work is an amalgamated map of the world upon which he reflects. Producing pottery is a kind of play for the artist: a regenerative act, ripe with reverence, revealing the human hand's enduring connection to creativity.

Spangler's current collaborative project with Bryan Czibesz raises questions concerning authorship and commoditization of objects, opening a dialog that highlights the connections and margins between digital and analog processes of producing ceramic vessels.

For more information about Spangler's work, visit www.shawnspangler.com.

Pictured: Ewer and stand, Shawn Spangler, 2011, glazed porcelain with incised decoration and stain inlay, 14 inches.

April 18: Dike Blair

Sponsored by the painting department

Dike Blair is a painter and sculptor.
Since 1980 his work has been shown in venues such as the Gagosian Gallery, Feature Inc., Wexner Center for the Arts, the Walker Art Center, Centre Georges Pompidou, the Weatherspoon Art Museum and the 2004 Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art.
In 2007 Blair published “Again,” a collection of interviews and essays. Most recently, Blair has been the recipient of
a 2009 John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship and the 2010 - 2011 Rome Prize. 

Pictured: "Hard Shadows," Dike Blair, 2012, painted wooden crates, framed mixed media on paper, 72 inches by 66 inches by 85 inches.


April 25: Karen Kice, distinguished alumni speaker

Sponsored by the H&R Block Artspace at KCAI

Karen Kice ('01, ceramics and art history) is the Neville Bryan assistant curator in the department of architecture and design at the Art Institute of Chicago. Her work focuses on contemporary architecture and urbanism with a particular interest in the influence of the political economy on the built environment and the role of branding, identity and mobility in architecture.

From 2010 to 2012, Kice studied architecture and urban design in the Ph.D. program at the University of California-Los Angeles, where she was a senior research associate at the university's cityLAB, an urban think-tank. Kice was the project manager for the Westwood Village Vision research initiative, which investigated the complex urban and political forces contributing to the state of the area of Westwood Village, a once vibrant retail district of Los Angeles. The initiative culminated in specific recommendations to revitalize the area.

Kice also was involved with Hi-C, a program in experimental curatorial and theoretical practices, and she was part of a curatorial team that developed Ultra Expo, an exhibition that focused on the Osaka Exposition of 1970.

Prior to studying at UCLA, Kice was a research assistant at Van Alen Institute in New York, working on multiple projects including the 2006 exhibition and publication "The Good Life: New Public Spaces for Recreation," as well as the 2007 exhibition catalog "Coney Island: The Parachute Pavilion Competition."

Kice earned an M.Sc. degree in architectural history and theory from The Bartlett School of Architecture at the University College London and a B.F.A. degree in ceramics and art history from KCAI.

Pictured: Karen Kice

Fall 2012

Sept. 13: KCAI faculty grant recipients

The following members of the KCAI faculty will discuss projects associated with recent grants: Paul Donnelly, assistant professor of ceramics; Rebecca Dubay, Ph.D., assistant professor of art history, specializing in contemporary art and theory; Julie Farstad, associate professor of painting; Pauline Verbeek-Cowart, professor and chair of fiber; Hal Wert, Ph.D., professor of history of World War II, the Cold War and modern Japanese literature; and Michael Wickerson, associate professor and chair of sculpture.

Sept. 20: KCAI faculty grant recipients

The following members of the KCAI faculty will discuss projects associated with recent grants: Kim Eichler-Messmer, assistant professor of fiber; Jessie Fisher, associate professor of painting, and Misty Gamble, assistant professor of foundation; Milton Katz, Ph.D., professor of American studies, art, literature and film of the Holocaust and peace and conflict resolution; Jan Kennedy, Ph.D., assistant professor of liberal arts; and Karen McCoy, associate professor of sculpture.

Sept. 27: Jamilee Polson Lacy

Co-sponsored by Charlotte Street Foundation

Independent Chicago-based curator, writer and artist Jamilee Polson Lacy holds two undergraduate degrees in studio arts and art history and a masters degree in comparative literature and arts from Northwestern University. She founded and currently directs the Twelve Galleries Project, a transitory, collaborative exhibition experiment. Her independent curatorial projects focus on the visions, colors, histories and ideas shared between authors, architects and artists, while her artwork and writing search for what is lost and gained between text, image and object. She has engaged in solo and collaborative projects with numerous Chicago creatives and institutions, including A+D Gallery at Columbia College Chicago, The Black Visual Archive, Chicago Artists Coalition & Hatch Projects, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Hyde Park Art Center and Quite Strong and Swimming Pool Project Space. Polson Lacy is the inaugural Charlotte Street Foundation curatorial resident. For more information about Polson Lacy’s work, visit www.jamileelacy.virb.com.

Image courtesy of Charlotte Street Foundation.

Oct. 11: Saul Becker

Co-sponsored by the Kansas City Artists Coalition

Saul Becker is a painter and sculptor based in Washington. His work is focused on landscape painting and its implications in contemporary attitudes toward the reception and defining of nature.

Becker was born in Tacoma, Wash., in 1975 and received a B.F.A. degree from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and an M.F.A. degree from Virginia Commonwealth University. He was the recipient of an Artist Trust fellowship in 2011, a New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship in painting in 2010 and a Virginia Museum of Fine Art fellowship in 2005. Recent residencies include Steep Rock Arts in Washington, Conn., the Arctic Circle in Svalbard, Norway, and Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland, Canada. His work has been exhibited in solo projects at Horton Gallery (Sunday L.E.S.), Artists Space and Volta NY, all in New York. Becker has received critical approbation in The New York Times and The New Yorker.

Pictured: “Folding Coastline,” Saul Becker, 2012, watercolor, ink, and gouache on paper, 29.5 inches by 41.5 inches.

Oct. 18: Julie Beeler

Co-sponsored by the graphic design department at KCAI

Julie Beeler is the co-founder and managing director of Second Story Interactive Studios, with a background in visual design, art history and liberal arts. Beeler leads the studio in shaping unique, innovative, interactive experiences that pique curiosity, spur discovery and inspire audiences. She has helped define and sustain an approach to interactive media design that focuses on reaching diverse audiences while pushing the limits of technological innovation. From concept through completion, Beeler interacts with various industry disciplines, guiding the studio to realize holistic approaches to successful projects.

Beeler is a frequent speaker at various conferences and schools across the country on topics ranging from interactive design methodologies to usability and the marriage of rich content and technology. She graduated magna cum laude with a B.F.A. degree in graphic design and art history from the University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif.

Pictured: Interactive tables at the National WWI Museum in Kansas City, designed by Second Story.

Oct. 25: Nick Van Woert

Co-sponsored by The School of the Foundation Year at KCAI

Nick Van Woert’s work draws on the tools and rituals developed throughout Western civilization. It simultaneously criticizes and surrenders to the built environment and our tendency toward territorial and material expansion. Common materials are imbued with meaning through our daily relationship to them outside the context of art. Van Woert’s practice is rooted in the artist’s interest in architecture, ancient history and nature. Growing up in Reno, Nev., situated the artist between the city’s gaudy, over-accessorized buildings and the raw, unadorned, natural landscape of the surrounding desert. The stark contrast between the way elements occur in nature, constantly changing through erosion and accretion, and the way elements are fabricated in the city provides inspiration to Van Woert.

Nick Van Woert was born in Reno, Nev., in 1979 and currently resides in Brooklyn, N.Y. He received a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Oregon and an M.F.A. degree from Parsons School of Design. He is represented by Grimm in Amsterdam and Yvon Lambert Gallery in New York and Paris and has been reviewed in Art in America and FlashArt. Pictured: “Poor Me,” Nick Van Woert, 2010, marble impregnated resin bust and polyurethane plastic, 35 inches by 39 inches by 14 inches.

Nov. 1: Pablo Helguera, 8 p.m.

Co-sponsored by The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Pablo Helguera is a New York-based artist, educator and author. He explores history, pedagogy, sociolinguistics, ethnography, memory and the absurd in work that takes many forms. His work as an educator has usually intersected his interest as an artist, reflecting on issues of interpretation, dialogue and the role of contemporary culture. This intersection is best exemplified in his project “The School of Panamerican Unrest," a nomadic think-tank that crossed North and South America by car, travelling from Anchorage, Ala., to Tierra del Fuego, Argentina and making 40 stops in between. Covering almost 20,000 miles, it is considered one of the most extensive public art projects on record.

From 1998 to 2005, Helguera was head of public programs in the education department at the Guggenheim Museum and since 2007 has been director of adult and academic programs at The Museum of Modern Art in New York. His publications include Education for Socially Engaged Art and The Pablo Helguera Manual of Contemporary Art Style.

Pictured: Ælia Media, an alternative arts radio station, launched Oct. 15, 2011, live from the heart of the historical university district of Bologna, Italy in Piazza Puntoni. Ælia Media was a participatory art project conceived by Pablo Helguera, winner of the first International Award for Participatory Art.

Nov. 15: 2012 Charlotte Street Foundation Fellows: Anne Austin Pearce, Marcus Cain and Luke Rocha

Co-sponsored by H&R Block Artspace and Charlotte Street Foundation

Since 1997, the Charlotte Street Foundation has recognized and provided support for visual artists in Kansas City and has helped fund projects for 77 artists through its fellowship program. Anne Austin Pearce (attended), Marcus Cain (’98 painting) and Luke Rocha (attended) were selected by the Charlotte Street Foundation as the 2012 Visual Artist Award Fellows. Each artist received a $10,000 unrestricted cash award, and their work will be shown at the H&R Block Artspace at KCAI in an exhibition this fall. Pearce, Cain and Rocha were chosen from a group of 125 applicants.

Marcus Cain’s drawings and paintings veer back and forth between abstraction and representation, with the figure as a recurrent element explored in relationship to environment and physical form. His latest paintings are part of an ongoing series of semi-abstract works that draw on the form of an iconic portrait head to explore a threshold between cognitive absence and presence. Cain earned a B.F.A. degree in painting and printmaking from the Kansas City Art Institute in 1998 and has actively exhibited in the Kansas City area and nationally since.

Anne Austin Pearce’s recent ink, acrylic and colored-pencil drawings on paper are explorations of human psychology and emotion — our inner lives. These manifest as exaggerated, visceral representations of bodily forms tangled within and emerging from dense passages of gestural, abstract marks and patterns. Pearce earned a B.F.A. degree in printmaking from the University of Kansas in Lawrence and an M.F.A. degree in drawing and painting from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va.

Luke Rocha is a self-taught artist who creates sculptures, installations, publications and collages from found materials. He attended his foundation year at KCAI. Particularly interested in the lesser-known or underappreciated expressions and artifacts of specific cultures and subcultures, Rocha, a consummate collector, seeks to re-focus attention on these forms while bringing them into new dialogue with one another in the present. In 2010 he was commissioned to create the Kansas Citian of the Year Award for the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Kansas City and he was a Charlotte Street Foundation Urban Culture Project studio resident from 2010 to 2011.

Pictured: “Pulse,” Marcus Cain, 2012, acrylic, ink, latex, spray paint and watercolor on wood panel. Image courtesy of E.G. Schempf.

Nov. 29: Nandipha Mntambo

Co-sponsored by H&R Block Artspace

Swaziland native Nandipha Mntambo graduated with an M.F.A. degree (with distinction) from the Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town in 2007. Mntambo was recently named the 2011 Standard Bank Young Artist for Visual Art, which included her work being featured in a national touring exhibition ending at the University of Potchefstroom Art Gallery in South Africa. In 2010 she was the recipient of a Wits/BHP Billiton fellowship and took up a four-month artist’s residency in Cleveland, Ohio. In 2006 she was one of five young artists selected for the MTN New Contemporaries exhibition at Johannesburg Art Gallery in South Africa.

Group exhibitions include the 17th Biennale of Sydney in Australia; the 9th Dakar Biennale in Senegal; “Peekaboo: Current South Africa” at the Tennis Palace Art Museum in Helsinki in 2010; “Life Less Ordinary: Performance and Display in South African Art” at the Djanogly Gallery in Nottingham, England in 2009; “Undercover: Performing and Transforming Black Female Identities” at Spelman College Museum of Fine Art in Atlanta, Ga. in 2009; “Les Rencontres de Bamako” biennial of African photography in Bamako, Mali in 2012; “Beauty and Pleasure in South African Contemporary Art” at the Stenersen Museum in Oslo, Norway in 2009; “.ZA: Giovane Arte dal Sudafrica,” at the Palazzo delle Papesse in Siena, Italy in 2008; and “Apartheid: The South African Mirror” at the Centre de Cultura Contemporania de Barcelona in Spain in 2008.

Pictured: Mlwa ne Nkunzi,Nandipha Mntambo.