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.”

May 9, 2016


KANSAS CITY, Mo. (May 8, 2016) — The Kansas City Art Institute celebrates its 131st Commencement on May 14 and will confer the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree for 160 graduate students. Pablo Helguera, a New York based artist, educator and author, will deliver the keynote address. Julián Zugazagoitia, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art Director and recently appointed trustee of  KCAI, will introduce Helguera. Helguera will also receive an honorary doctorate of fine arts from KCAI during the ceremony. “I am delighted to join my esteemed colleagues on the board of trustees of KCAI at a time of great expansion for this amazing art and design college,” said Julián Zugazagoitia, Menefee D. and Mary Louise Blackwell CEO & Director of the Nelson-Atkins. “Nerman Family President Tony Jones’ leadership is galvanizing and his vision encompasses the expansion of an urban campus. This is a great moment for the Nelson-Atkins and KCAI to grow even closer as we celebrate and nurture passion for the arts.” Commencement Keynote Speaker Helguera, who has an installation at the Nelson-Atkins, works as an educator and an artist and his work often reflects the role of contemporary culture in a global reality. This intersection is best exemplified in his project, “The School of Panamerican Unrest,” a read more…

May 9, 2016

Jim Sajovic to retire in May

Jim Sajovic, a professor in the foundation program, has announced his plan to retire at the end of this semester after 44 years of teaching.  Jim joined the KCAI foundation faculty in 1971, following five years of teaching at the University of Florida, where he received his MFA degree. He earned his BFA in painting from the University of Illinois.  Jim has been a devoted educator and has helped to shape the minds of thousands of young artists and designers. He has also been deeply committed to his professional practice. His work is held in public and private collections in the United States, Europe, and Asia.  His artworks have been exhibited at galleries and museums, nationally and internationally, including New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Los Angeles; Edinburgh (Scotland), Paris (France), as well as Milan, Rome, and Venice (Italy).  Solo exhibitions include: Jim Sajovic: Hix Fragments & (pash’n), Todd Weiner Gallery, Kansas City, Missouri: Be Inspired, Kemper Crossroads Museum, Kansas City, Missouri: Jim Sajovic: Evolution, Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, Sedalia, Missouri; Dreamer-Ecstasy, Belger Arts Center, Kansas City, Missouri; Jim Sajovic, The Lowe Gallery, Atlanta, Georgia; Millennium Garden, The Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art, St. Joseph, Missouri.  Sajovic’s works were also featured in: “Dream Bodies”, The Kansas City Jewish Museum; “WORD”, read more…