August 18, 2015

KCAI Receives $25 Million Donation

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Aug. 18, 2015) – In its 130th year, the Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI) is honoring its past and celebrating its future, thanks to a $25 million gift, believed to be one of the largest donations to a North American art college.

The Greater Kansas City Community Foundation presented the $25 million donation on behalf of an anonymous donor during a private reception August 18 with KCAI’s board of trustees, faculty, staff and Kansas City arts community supporters in attendance.

“For more than a century, the Kansas City Art Institute has been preparing students to transform the world creatively through art and design,” said Debbie Wilkerson, president and CEO of the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation. “This gift comes from a donor who has the highest confidence in the Kansas City Art Institute and, therefore, wants to demonstrate that support financially.”

Tony Jones, interim president of KCAI, said, “The gift is a pillow on which we can dream about the future of our college and know our dreams will become reality. This donation is transformative and will cascade down to students, faculty, alumni, donors and the community, and for that we are truly grateful and unabashedly excited.” The $25 million gift allows KCAI to continue to support its talented pool of students and the faculty and be a leader in art and design education well into the future, Jones said.

KCAI has a distinguished history. Notable names associated with the school include legendary painter and former KCAI faculty member Thomas Hart Benton; artists Robert Rauschenberg, John Buck, Akio Takamori, and Nick Cave; and Walt Disney, who took KCAI classes as a teenager, to name a few. Today, KCAI is an innovative leader in art and design education, preparing students to creatively transform the world through those practices. It’s a mission that’s increasingly important and relevant as employers, gallery owners, museum curators and collectors seek out the next generation of innovators and creative thinkers.

The funding includes $14 million for a general endowment. Five million dollars will go toward campus improvements, including deferred maintenance on buildings and landscaping projects. Six million dollars, in the form of a challenge grant, will be used for student scholarships, endowed professorships and visiting professors. Through Dec. 31, 2016, an anonymous fund at the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation will match and double any donation KCAI receives from outside sources up to a total of $6 million. The 2:1 scale is unusual, as most donation matches are at a 1:1 level.

KCAI believes the funding will serve as a tool for recruitment and retention of faculty, staff and students, as well as a magnet for other gifts, offering donors a strong foundation on which to build.

“We have a committed board and a climate that’s poised for progress,” said Pat McCown, chair of the board of trustees. “This is only the beginning, and it’s a call to join us at a very exciting time. Over the past few weeks, we’ve celebrated the completion of a major renovation in the Richard J. Stern Ceramics Building and hosted renowned Chinese artists in a residency on campus for Studio Nong. This is a college with a fully integrated system of education that serves Kansas City, the nation and, increasingly, the world.”

January 18, 2017

KCAI/Nelson-Atkins Durwood Internship Program Gives Students Professional Experience

High up on a mast lift in a gallery at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Lighting and Fabrications Technician Jake Ludemann adjusts a spotlight to shine on a gilded 15th century Spanish altarpiece. He knows that lighting transforms art, drawing the eye into it and setting the mood with a play of light and dark. For five years, he has been a part of the museum’s lighting team and has put his hands on every light fixture in the building.  It’s a job he loves but one he could never have imagined doing until going through the Durwood Internship program during the summer of his junior year at the Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI). “I was a sculpture student and part of my work was lighting and sound based so I thought the lighting internship would be interesting.  I approached it with a willingness to learn, worked my tail off and gradually discovered more about how lighting can enhance the museum experience. About 75 percent into the internship I knew that this was what I wanted to do,” said Ludemann. The internship program was established in 2010 by the Stanley H. Durwood Foundation.  According to Charles Egan, Durwood Foundation trustee, read more…

December 6, 2016

Alumni Named United States Artists Fellows

We couldn’t let 2016 conclude without sharing one more bit of exciting news. Two KCAI alumni, Stanley Whitney (’68 painting) and Roberto Lugo (’12 ceramics) as well as former KCAI fiber faculty member Piper Shepard, were named United States Artists Fellows and have each received $50,000. This prestigious award, which recognizes fresh perspectives, unique artistic vision and impact, is significant because the artists were nominated by their peers and experts in their field. Stanley Whitney is a world renowned artist with a signature compositional approach to his paintings…gridded squares of colorful pigment divided by thin horizontal lines. His work has been shown at museums including the American Academy of Art, New York; the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia; the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City; the Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach; and the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York. In Europe, solo gallery exhibitions have been mounted in Berlin, Brussels, Vienna and Rome. Roberto Lugo’s Puerto Rican heritage and his upbringing on the streets of Philadelphia play a prominent role in his porcelain work. His teapots feature imagery at odds with themselves, like a confederate flag and the face of a hip-hop artist. His work is drawing national read more…