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.
KCAI is proud to share exciting news about one of our very own, Assistant Professor of Liberal Arts Anne Boyer, who has won two major literary awards just months apart! Anne was recently recognized as one of ten emerging writers by the Whiting Foundation in the category of Non-Fiction, Poetry. The award of $50,000 is based on early accomplishment and the promise of work to come. In January, she received the inaugural $40,000 Cy Twombly Award for Poetry from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts. Her recent book of personal essays, Garments Against Women, has been highly-praised and spent six months at the top of the Small Press Distribution list in Poetry. Two new collections, A Handbook of Disappointing Fate and The Undying are in the works. Her achievements have received international press and put KCAI on the global stage. One of the hallmarks of KCAI is our liberal arts education, which is taught by our accomplished and gifted faculty. Anne has set a new precedent for inspirational teaching and artistic talent–please join us in congratulating her for this tremendous recognition. We can’t wait to see what she’ll accomplish next!
Come hear a relevant voice for our time at the Inaugural Hoffman Visiting Artist Lecture featuring Baltimore-based artist Joyce J. Scott who is known for her artistic commentary on issues regarding race, politics, sexism and stereotypes. The lecture is from 6-7 p.m. on Friday, April 13 in Epperson Auditorium on the Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI) campus, 4415 Warwick. Scott is a printmaker, weaver, sculptor, performance artist and educator, but she is probably most well known for her work in jewelry, beadwork and glass. Her art reflects her take on all aspects of American popular culture, her ancestry and the immediate world of her neighborhood. Scott will be exhibiting in Open Spaces this fall. This free public lecture is underwritten by the Hoffman Visiting Artist Endowment and was established as part of a 2:1 Match through the $25 million “Great Gift” by an anonymous donor. The purpose is to bring nationally recognized artists who focus on contemporary art practices to give an annual talk to KCAI students, faculty and the Kansas City community, as well as work with students and faculty in their studios. The Visiting Artist is selected through a process administered by a select group of representatives from KCAI, members read more…
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