July 21, 2015
$750,000 renovation to KCAI ceramics building
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (July 21, 2015) – The Richard J. Stern Ceramics Building at Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI) has quietly been home to one of the nation’s leading ceramics programs for nearly half a century. However, today – thanks to a $750,000 renovation – this hidden gem in Kansas City now shines for the global arts community to see.
Opened in 1968, the original building, located at 4410 Warwick Blvd., featured gas and wood-fired kilns, clay mixers and studio space with potters wheels, shelves and tables. There have been upgrades over the years, but none more significant than the current renovation, which increases access to technology and equipment, improves safety and provides a space where students can learn, create and thrive at their craft.
“The renovations to the main floor of the glaze room and the old kiln area – where students get their hands dirty molding, sculpting and firing kilns – includes a high-performing plaster lab and expanded glaze room,” said Cary Esser, professor and chair of the ceramics department. “At the same time, new soundproofing and ventilation equipment reduces noise and improves the air quality. We also built a loft-like mezzanine to provide a clean and quiet reprieve from the main floor with a resource library and digital studio with 3-D printers.”
The project has been the college’s highest priority in 2015, with the full backing of the Board of Trustees, and executed under the guidance of Tony Jones, interim president of KCAI. Funding for the project has come from the Windgate Charitable Foundation, which gave a $250,000 challenge grant, the Richard J. Stern Foundation and private donors. The college is 80 percent to its fundraising goal.
“This facility will elevate our ceramics program,” said Jones. “We will be full service, from mixing clay to 3-D technology. We are a craft-oriented and fully integrated system of education. We have a strong dedicated undergraduate program that serves the nation and, increasingly, the globe. This renovation secures KCAI as the destination in ceramic arts education.”
The project is generating additional buzz as the facility will be host to a national audience next spring. The National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) will hold its 50th anniversary conference in Kansas City in March 2016.
“The theme is ‘Makers, Mentors and Milestones’ as we look at the past, present and future,” said Paul Donnelly, NCECA board member and KCAI assistant professor of ceramics. “It ties to Kansas City Art Institute and the renovations with the continued historic tradition of ceramics and the emergence into the digital future.”
The conference attracts an estimated 5,000 registrants, with an additional audience of 2,000 more people visiting 85 ceramics exhibitions across the metro, KCAI included.
“I’m excited and impressed that this important department is getting attention at this critical moment,” says Catherine Futter, Louis L. and Adelaide C. Ward Senior Curator of European Arts, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Futter serves as a guest lecturer at KCAI and also mentors students and graduates. “Kansas City Art Institute has galvanized our arts community and fosters a strong foundation in Kansas City’s thriving arts scene. This renovation will help Kansas City look its very best in time for NCECA. This is an investment in the school’s ability to maintain and grow its strong reputation. I think we’ll see the Kansas City Art Institute ceramics program outdo itself every year.”
Kansas City firms Helix and McCownGordon Construction collaborated for the design-build project. Construction began in May, and the culmination ensures students will be able to utilize the facility as the fall semester begins. Visiting artists from China will be the first to work in the renovated Richard J. Stern Ceramics Building in August.
We are starting off 2018 with an exciting announcement about two brilliant members of our KCAI family, faculty member Anne Boyer and Alumna Ellen Carey (’75 Printmaking), who have recently been recognized for their artistic achievement by two prestigious award organizations. Assistant Professor of Liberal Arts Anne Boyer has received the inaugural $40,000 Cy Twombly Award for Poetry from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, an organization founded by Jasper Johns and John Cage in the 1960s. Anne’s most recent book Garments Against Women, which explores everyday life themes, spent six months at the top of the Small Press Distribution bestseller list in Poetry. She has two additional books in the works, a collection of essays, A Handbook of Disappointing Fate, and The Undying, a personal account of her battle with highly aggressive breast cancer. Anne has been teaching and inspiring students at KCAI since 2007. The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts has awarded the Burchfield-Penney Art Center in Buffalo, N.Y. a $30,000 grant to support the upcoming retrospective Picture Nothing: The Experimental Photography of Ellen Carey 1977-2017. This exhibit of Ellen Carey’s groundbreaking photography will open in October and run through February. Ellen is a world-renowned photographer and Associate read more…
We end 2017 with one more exciting announcement! The Board of Trustees has selected Helix Architecture + Design to design a new student living center and dining hall to be built on campus starting next year. The opportunity to construct a new residence hall is possible thanks to a $10 million lead gift by an Anonymous Donor, given through the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation earlier this year. Helix is an award-winning, Kansas City design firm consistently ranked among the Best in the Nation by Architect Magazine. The firm’s diverse portfolio of work includes extensive experience with higher education institutions throughout the region. Helix designers Doug Stockman and Alissa Wehmueller partnered with Christopher Carvell Architects of Denver, Colorado who has nationally recognized expertise in the design of “Next Generation” student life facilities. This is a complicated project that includes not only the new 250-bed living center but also contemporary dining that will be open to the public and a large new terraced garden. Following interviews with several firms, Helix presented a sophisticated plan on how to create a relationship between the new student living center, the new garden space, and our current student housing building. The result will be a read more…
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