Project Walls

The Artspace Project Wall, situated on the western façade of the Artspace and facing the intersection of 43rd and Main Streets, is an ongoing site for temporary public art projects that features selected and commissioned works by national and regional artists. Since its inauguration, the Artspace Project Wall has received important support from the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency.

Current Project Wall

Dan Perjovschi, "Relax, I Protect You!"

Romanian artist Dan Perjovschi’s cartoon-like drawing, “Relax, I Protect You!,” was selected from five drawings proposed by the artist for this project. While the image brings to mind recent events in Sudan, Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, it has been used by the artist before, including, for example, as part of his one-person installation, “What Happened to Us?,”at the Museum of Modern Art in 2007, to refer to conditions and events that have occurred throughout history and around the globe.
Until the fall of the Ceausescu regime in Romania in 1989, Perjovschi lived and created work under communist rule. In the past two decades, Perjovschi has become a part of the international contemporary art world, traveling extensively to create large-scale drawing installations for biennial exhibitions in Venice, Istanbul and Moscow, and for museums around the world, including a recent project with the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas.  
“His simple, economical drawings offer thought-provoking social, artistic, cultural and political critiques reminiscent of art historical figures like William Hogarth, Honore Daumier and the best of contemporary social and political cartoonists,” said Raechell Smith, director of the H&R Block Artspace. “I respect and admire Perjovschi’s sage powers of perception, his artistic and contextual precision and his capacity to distill and synthesize complex conditions into humorous but insightful drawings that have multiple potential and meaningful narratives. Protection can come in many shapes and sizes — it can be benign and caring or it can be forceful and malignant.”

Past Project Walls

Nathan Mabry ('01 ceramics), "Around Us and Rebus"

December 2010 through March 2011

Los Angeles-based artist and KCAI alumnus Nathan Mabry created the new Project Wall, entitled “Around Us and Rebus.” With this piece, Mabry has created an image based on a photograph of the Capitoline Wolf, a bronze sculpture depicting a she wolf with Romulus and Remus, the legendary founders of ancient Rome. The artist describes the overall effect of the work as a rebus –– a visual puzzle for the viewer to solve.

The image has been overlaid with a stereoscopic 3-D effect, which creates a sense of movement in the otherwise static image. According to Mabry, “the anaglyph 3-D effect works when viewed with the correct red and blue lens glasses but is not necessary for the visual code it unlocks.”

“The Capitoline Wolf is turned sideways as if it is walking on a vertical plain –– ascending or descending. On top of the image is an optical illusion known as the Zollner illusion –– where the long lines are actually parallel but don’t appear that way. The immediate graphic impact of the black lines can be seen as a tribal pattern, tire tread, a fence or minimalist abstraction but also serves as another clue to the viewer that things aren’t exactly as they seem,” said Mabry.

The artist claims, “In this work, there are sets of rules or processes layered over an archetypal image representing the creation myth for Rome –– an ideological code that creates a mash up of past and present. The image is simultaneously atavistic and retro futuristic.”

David Ford, "Relax"

November 2009 through December 2010

“Relax,” created by Kansas City artist David Ford, is an image constructed from several layers of both reality and painterly illusion. A hand-painted translucent sign spells “relax” in light yellow, lower-case letters. Drips of paint are almost a successful distraction from the subtle gradations of blue along the edges of the sign, which is held up against a real blue-sky by the arms of a young black woman. Close observation, however, reveals another layer of illusion in the clouds painted by the artist.

Ford has been making political art in public spaces for 25 years. His work covers a range of disciplines and cultures functioning in what he describes as “multiple dimensions.” Ford has developed an intriguing approach, culling and combining images and information from a variety of sources, always keenly aware of the context from which they come and the meaning they carry.

Yang Yongliang, "Phantom Landscape II, No. 3"

January through November 2009

“From a distance, the image of mountain peaks, fjords, a winding river and mist evokes a style of Chinese ink painting called shanshui, or mountain and water painting,” said Raechell Smith, director of the Artspace. “A closer look, however, reveals that mountains are built from facades of skyscrapers, trees are construction cranes and electrical poles and the mist-enshrouded river is a pollution-filled street and a stream of congested traffic. The image pays homage to the tradition of ink landscape painting in China and references, in particular, the imagery of Chinese rural landscapes from the Northern Song dynasty. Yang Yongliang has created a new visual language by combining the mood of traditional Chinese painting with the effects and techniques of digital photography. Making further reference to contemporary life, the artist includes Chinese script in the upper left of the image that describes Shanghai’s urban geography, naming specific locations and streets such as Nanjing Road and Jing’an Temple. The red seals, or stamps, are images of rubbings made from manhole covers located throughout the city.”

Yang Yongliang was born in Shanghai in 1980. Early on, he studied ink painting and calligraphy and went on to study visual communications at the Shanghai Institute of Design at the China Academy of Fine Arts and at the Shanghai Arts and Crafts Vocational College. He lives and works in Shanghai, and his works have been exhibited in China, Korea, Greece, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States. His works are in the collections of The British Museum and Bates College Museum of Art in Lewiston, Maine.

Audra Brandt, "I Cannot Help Eating This"

May 2007 through January 2009

Audra Brandt created "I Cannot Help Eating This" as a parody of David Shrigley’s previous Project Wall, "You Cannot Help Looking at This." Born in Shawnee Mission, Kan. in 1983, Brandt graduated from KCAI with a degree in digital filmmaking in 2007. She has performed in England and staged improvisational street performances in Prague, Germany and France. Brandt’s performances and exhibitions in Kansas City include participating in Whoop Dee Doo in March 2007, inclusion in the "Silent Cinema Series: Trip" at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in 2004 and performances at the Boley Building and Arts Incubator. In addition, she draws, writes and decorates cakes.

David Shrigley, "You Cannot Help Looking at This"

October 2006 through May 2007

Born in Macclesfield, England, in 1968, artist David Shrigley currently lives and works in Glasgow, Scotland, where he attended Glasgow School of Art from 1988 to1991. Shrigley's work references a long history of surreal cartoonists including Edward Lear, James Thurber, Spike Milligan and Gary Larson. His awkward, intentionally messy hand-drawings are alternatives to slick, retouched digital prints. Shrigley’s work has been shown internationally in venues including the UCLA Hammer Gallery; the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College, New York; the Serpentine Gallery, London; the Contemporary Art Museum, Houston; Kunsthaus, Zurich; and many others. For more information on the artist, please visit his website at

Archie Scott Gobber, "It's a Free Country"

May 2004 through September 2006

Kansas City artist and KCAI alumnus Archie Scott Gobber ('88 painting) is known for his wry political commentary achieved by way of re-contextualizing standard catch-phrases, quotes, sound-bytes and slogans drawn from popular culture, political campaigns and mass media. Commissioned by the Artspace as the sixth project wall and installed in conjunction with the 2004 presidential election, "It’s A Free Country" is a declarative slogan that crosses beyond political ideology and party lines. Easily understood and recognized, "It’s A Free Country" also means different things to different people, thus resounding a multifaceted public message.

Alexis Rockman, "Pet Store"

October 2003 through April 2004

New York based artist Alexis Rockman is recognized for his extraordinary paintings that imagine a future affected by pollution, global warming and genetic mutation. For the fifth Project Wall, the Artspace featured Rockman’s narrative work, "Pet Store." The work envisioned a futuristic pet store window with various anomalous creatures, including a bioengineered white tiger with red racing stripes, a robotic dog and a unicorn, displayed upon a spiraling shelf resembling a strand of DNA.

Deanna Dikeman, "Leaving and Waving"

September 2002 through October 2003

"Leaving and Waving," by Missouri photographer Deanna Dikeman, is the fourth Artspace Project Wall. Part of Dikeman’s series, "Relative Moments," which pictured casual, candid portraits of her aging parents and other family members, "Leaving and Waving" depicts the artist’s parents standing in the driveway and waving goodbye as her car is pulling away. Both sentimental and grounded in the everyday, "Leaving and Waving" revealed a sense of timeless nostalgia and longing, a defining quality within much of Dikeman’s imagery.

Jenny Holzer, "Protect Me From What I Want"

May 2001 through August 2002

Internationally acclaimed artist Jenny Holzer installed "Protect Me From What I Want," from her "Survival Series" (1983-1985) as the third Project Wall. The phrase "Protect Me From What I Want" was one of Holzer's many truisms –– punchy one-liners that are packed with profound, conflicting ideas and imperatives that reflect on contemporary life.

Michael Sinclair, "Oceanside"

November 2000 through May 2001

"Oceanside," by Kansas City artist Mike Sinclair, was the second Project Wall commissioned by the Artspace. Sinclair began his career as a commercial photographer but  his photography has evolvedin a conceptual direction with narrative-based images of crowds engaged in various types of leisure and everyday activities. "Oceanside" presented a view of a baptism taking place in the ocean in Oceanside, Calif., in the summer of 2000. Sinclair photographed the onlookers and participants from behind, presenting an unconventional, slightly ambiguous view that infused his image with an element of surreal mystery.

Vik Muniz, "Two Cows"

November 1999 through September 2000

"Two Cows" by Vik Muniz was installed as the inaugural Project Wall upon the opening of the Artspace in November 1999. Muniz, a Brazilian-born artist now living and working in New York, explores ideas of illusion and perception in a range of work and conceptual photographic studies. "Two Cows" contained the double photographic image of a cow within a cow, transforming what initially appeared as a mundane farm picture into a curious and playful work of art that challenged initial perceptions. The image also made witty reference to Kansas City as an atypical cow town.

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