Two KCAI students receive $15,000 Windgate Fellowships

24 April 2014

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (April 23, 2014) — Two Kansas City Art Institute students have won 2014 Windgate Fellowships. The $15,000 fellowships are awarded annually to 10 senior students, nationwide, working in the field of craft. The fellowship program is supported and administered by the Center for Creativity, Craft and Design, which is based in Asheville, N.C.

Melanie Sherman (senior, ceramics) will use her fellowship to travel to Asia, where she will explore the origins of porcelain, evaluating the qualities of Asian wares and studying the commonly used materials, designs and production techniques of craftsmen in Japan and China. She also will participate in a five-week residency at the Pottery Workshop in Jingdezhen.
Shenequa Brooks (senior, fiber) will use her fellowship to travel to the Volta region in Ghana to study with master weaver Sebastian Dayi in Afiadenyigba and learn about traditional Ghanaian textiles. She also will travel to Atlanta to attend the Bronner Bros. International Hair Show and the Madam C.J. Walker Museum to research contemporary hairstyles for African American women.
This is the second time a KCAI ceramics major has won the Windgate Fellowship and the third such fellowship for a student from the KCAI fiber department. Sasha Alexandra (’13 ceramics) received the fellowship last year, and previous recipients from the fiber department include Yulie Urano (’11 fiber) and Bryn Hughes (’06 fiber).
About the artists
Melanie Sherman was born in Trier, Germany, and has lived in the United States since 1998. She commutes between Chicago, where she lives, and Kansas City, where she is enrolled at KCAI. She will graduate from KCAI in May with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in ceramics. Before transferring to KCAI in 2012 from the College of Lake County in Grayslake, Ill., Sherman and her husband, Philipp Eirich, co-founded and directed 3-D Rex Studios, a new media design and production company in the Chicago metropolitan area. It has been in business since 1998. Sherman has exhibited her work internationally. She was included in the exhibitions “Earth Moves: Shifts in Ceramic Art and Design” at the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities in Arvada, Colo., and the 2014 National Student Juried Exhibition hosted by the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design in Wisconsin. She also received the 2014 Regina Brown Undergraduate Fellowship from NCECA, and in 2013 she participated in a summer residency at the International Ceramics Studio in Kecskemét, Hungary.

Shenequa Alexandria Brooks was raised in Miami, where she graduated summa cum laude from the New World School of the Arts high school. She will graduate from KCAI in May with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in fiber. Brooks has exhibited her work in various group shows, including “Blind Trajectory, Progress and Prosperity” and the KCAI fiber department’s biannual exhibition. In May 2013 she received the Susan Lordi Marker award of excellence in fiber. In spring 2014, she was featured in The Kansas City Star, in an article that focused on her work in relationship to the African American hair experience.  Brooks uses synthetic and human hair in braiding and weaving headdresses, head-wraps, wall pieces and garments. She is interested in the significance of hair in African-American culture and the bonds it creates between women in her family.

About the Windgate Awards
The Windgate Fellowship Award program, administered by the Center for Craft, Creativity and Design in Asheville, N.C., was established to help encourage and advance the development of serious, innovative artists in the United States whose work is in some way related to, or informed by, the process, material or idea of craft. Seventy-two colleges and universities are invited to participate in this award process each year. At KCAI, the college’s Mobility Committee annually selects two students from a pool of applicants nominated by each department. Selections are based on the students’ slide presentations and proposals. The selected students are then eligible to compete at the national level for one of 10 $15,000 Windgate Fellowships.
About the Kansas City Art Institute
The Kansas City Art Institute is a private, independent four-year college of art and design awarding the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with majors in animation, art history, ceramics, digital filmmaking, digital media, fiber, graphic design, illustration, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture and studio art with an emphasis on creative writing. The college also offers certificate programs in Community Arts and Service Learning and in Asian Studies for students enrolled in the B.F.A. program. KCAI hosts “Current Perspectives,” a free public lecture series; free exhibitions at the H&R Block Artspace gallery; and evening, weekend and summer classes in art, design, multimedia studies and desktop publishing for children, youth and adults. Founded in 1885, KCAI is Kansas City’s oldest arts organization. For more information, visit KCAI on the Web at
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For more information, contact
Anne Canfield, 816-802-3426 or