February 19, 2019

FACULTY FOCUS: IL SUNG NA AND JIM WOODFILL

One hundred percent of our faculty are practicing artists, designers and scholars and when they aren’t busy teaching, they’re painting, drawing, sculpting, writing books, making films and creating public art.  Below are the stories of two of our faculty members who are changing the world in their own way, one by writing and illustrating children’s books and the other by working on what might become the world’s tallest public art piece.

Whimsical Animals Come to Life in Children’s Books by Illustration Assistant Professor Il Sung Na
Once there was a pig that admired birds. But there was no way a pig could fly. Or was there?

So, begins the story of a tenacious pig in the children’s book The Dreamer written and illustrated by Assistant Professor of Illustration Il Sung Na, whose playful drawings and never-give-up message captured the attention of the New York Times and Kirkus Reviews. Published in the fall of 2018, it was his twelfth children’s book starring imaginative animals.

His inspiration for his books begins with his never-ending desire to learn more. “It all starts with my curiosity. I keep asking myself questions and keep finding answers. Once I find an answer, it becomes a story and it becomes a book,” he said.

Other titles include  Bird Balloon Bear, Book of Sleep and The Opposite Zoo all featuring his signature coloring style “….that feels as if someone took a firecracker to a box of crayons…” according to the New York Times and is described as “….so joyous, so jubilantly colorful, it feels celebratory and poetic…” by the Boston Globe. Born in Seoul, South Korea, Na joined the KCAI Illustration faculty in 2017. He has a B.F.A. in Illustration and Animation from Kingston University in London, where he discovered a passion for children’s books. He went on to complete his M.F.A. in Illustration Practice at MICA (Maryland Institute College of Art). In addition to working on children’s books, he is a practicing ceramicist infamous for his “butt lamps.”

Follow him on Instagram @ilsungna or visit ilsungna.com

Painting Professor Jim Woodfill Dreams of Lighting Up the
Kansas City Sky 

In the 80s before there were Google Maps or navigation in the car, Jim Woodfill would look to the sky to find his way around Kansas City. The KCTV5 broadcast tower at 31st and Grand became his personal beacon of light, guiding him home after a night out.  It started a life-long fascination with the Kansas City landmark and when he was invited to be the lead artist on a project that could potentially turn the tower into one of the world’s tallest public art pieces, he didn’t hesitate to say yes.

“You see the tower from the most amazing places around the city and many people have stories about when it was lit.  We think it’s the perfect project to bring the community together to discuss issues about the urban and suburban conditions in Kansas City,” said Jim.

This collaborative project called “Seeing the Night Bluely” is the brainchild of Kansas City entrepreneur Jason Mullarney. He formed the non-profit The Tower KC and put together a team that includes Jim, Jose Faus as lead community engagement artist and Architects El Dorado Inc. Jim’s vision is to record the condition of the atmosphere during the day and play it back at night. There will be a blue tone that moves slowly from sunset to sunrise.  It’s meant to be contemplative, a companion for the cityscape, and a prompt for the city’s self-examination.

There have been several years of discussions on this speculative piece. It’s a tough engineering project with layers of issues to consider so numerous elements need to come together before the tower is lit. But when it is completed, it will have a quarter-century life span and be a legacy project for Jim. “I’ve been dreaming about this tower for forty years. As it sits, it’s a gorgeous sculpture, but when the project is completed it will have an even more significant impact on our city,” he said.

Jim Woodfill has a long history of transformative public art projects.  To read more about his work visit his website.

August 19, 2019

KCAI Announces Lineup for Fall Current Perspectives Lecture Series

Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI) will welcome three notable Visiting Artists this fall to present at the Current Perspectives lecture series. These presentations by a diverse group of artists will inform, engage and celebrate relevant topics and practices in contemporary art and culture. The artists will also directly engage with students through a series of classroom conversations and critiques. Current Perspectives Lectures Each lecture will take place at 7 p.m. in Epperson Auditorium on the KCAI campus at 4415 Warwick.  Tickets are not required and all events are free and open to the public. For detailed information visit https://kcai.edu/campus-life/publicprograms/. Daniel Eatock Talking In Circles Thursday, September 19 Spend an hour with witty artist and disrupter Daniel Eatock at Talking in Circles, where he’ll narrate insights to 360 images arranged around the circumference of a circle starting and ending at the top. Eatock’s fascination with the circle is evident in much of his work. His practice not only rounds the circle but reinvents and questions the very premise of what a circle might be. Lisa Congdon Finding Your Voice: Uncovering the Holy Grail Thursday, October 17 To Illustrator and Author Lisa Congdon, the process of finding your creative voice is akin to read more…

August 6, 2019

DANIEL EATOCK TALKS IN CIRCLES

Begin with Ideas. Embrace Change. Celebrate Confidence. Ad-lib and Make Things Up. From Daniel Eatock’s Manifesto Spend an hour on September 19 at 7 p.m. with witty artist and disrupter Daniel Eatock at a Current Perspectives presentation, Talking in Circles, where he’ll narrate insights to 360 images arranged around the circumference of a circle starting and ending at the top. Eatock’s fascination with the circle is evident in much of his work. His practice not only rounds the circle, but reinvents and questions the very premise of what a circle might be. The presentation will take place in Epperson Auditorium, located in Vanderslice Hall on the KCAI campus. With over 20 bios on his website eatock.com, it’s hard to choose just one to describe Eatock and his art. This one by Tim Milne, for the British website Container, sums it up –  Daniel Eatock is renowned for his exploration of the wit and conceptual irony that exist in everyday objects and situations. He devises systems, templates and opportunities for collaboration inviting contributors to shape the outcome and participate in the creation of his work. He embraces contradictions and dilemmas; seeking out alignments, paradoxes, chance circumstance, loops, impossibilities, and oxymorons. He likes to create the feeling read more…