January 16, 2020

Sculpture Faculty Win Major Accolades

Two Sculpture faculty members are kicking off the new year with incredible accomplishments. Chair Jill Downen (’89 Painting) has been selected to exhibit at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art’s new contemporary art space the Momentary and Jarrett Mellenbruch has received a prestigious Creative Capital Award.

Downen is one of 60 artists chosen for State of the Art 2020, which celebrates the opening of the new contemporary art space, the Momentary. The exhibition will be on view at the Momentary and Crystal Bridges from February 22 through May 24 and is free for all visitors.

Downen’s art envisions a symbiotic relationship between the human body and architecture, where the exchanging forces and tensions of construction, destruction and restoration emerge as thematic possibilities. The work that will be exhibited, Three Dimensional Sketchbook, is a cabinet of drawers that viewers may open to view a range of material sketches. Each drawer features a label and keyword which poetically corresponds to its contents. With the opening of each drawer, the artwork reveals a visual-spatial language in miniature scale.

“The opportunity to exhibit at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is meaningful in that I can share my voice within a national conversation about contemporary art today,” said Downen.

Mellenbruch’s The Redwood Preserve was one of 35 projects selected for a 2020 Creative Capital Award, which seeks out bold, groundbreaking projects and provides the artists behind them with the tools they need to realize their visions and build sustainable careers. He’ll receive up to $50,000 in project funding and an additional $50,000 in career development services.

The Redwood Preserve is a land art and social enterprise project to restore the ancient Californian redwood forest obliterated by logging in the 19 th and 20 th century. The nature preserve would revive biodiversity in the region, while its trees combat climate change by pulling large amounts of carbon from the atmosphere.

“Like all of us, I’m gripped by the prospect of impending climate catastrophe. If we are to save our earth, we cannot do enough, quickly enough. And it must happen now. So, I’m immensely grateful and honored to be chosen for this prestigious award. The seed funding and developmental assistance Creative Capital offers will make it possible to dramatically accelerate progress on the Redwood Preserve. My hope is to use this award to recruit the public support it will take to make a real difference,” said Mellenbruch.

One of the hallmarks of KCAI is our accomplished and gifted faculty, all practicing artists, designers and scholars. Congratulations to Jill Downen and Jarrett Mellenbruch for setting a precedent with these major recognitions.

July 28, 2020

Large Scale Hilgemann Implosion Sculpture Installed on Campus

A 20-foot sculpture that used to sit on Park Avenue in New York City was installed Tuesday morning on campus. Double Stack by Ewerdt Hilgemann (b. 1938 in Germany, lives in the Netherlands and US), is 20 ft. high and made from stainless steel.  Double Stack is the second work that has been generously loaned to the college by the artist and Zahner Metal Conservation. Dancers was on campus in 2017-18 and now is part of Leawood’s Public Art Collection. This installation is part of KCAI’s plan to place large-scale works on the campus, on a constantly-changing basis. They connect the large public artworks already in place at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art and the works in the Donald J. Hall Sculpture Garden at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Previous sculptures on campus include This is NOT a Refuge by Anila Quayyum Agha and The Consistency of Change by Caleb Bowman, (’99 Sculpture). See how Hilgemann implodes these giant sculptures here.

July 27, 2020

Recent Grad Designs Mural at Zoo’s Elephant Exhibit

Watching elephants frolic in the new waterfall pool is delighting visitors at the recently renovated Elephant Expedition at the Kansas City Zoo. The pachyderm’s passion for H2O is also the theme of another one of the exhibition’s new features, a vibrant mural by Anh Le, a 2020 graduate of KCAI’s Illustration program. The large-scale panorama on the Learning Cottage at the exhibit entrance shows animal families coming together at a waterhole in the wilds of Africa. “I wanted the whole scene to have a warm, inviting vibe for visitors.  It gives them a little peek into the world they are entering,” said Le. The project was created when Le was a senior in KCAI’s MICRO Agency, which connects Kansas City businesses with the creative talent of KCAI students. Several students presented designs to the Zoo team and Le’s interpretation made the final cut. This is the second time KCAI students have designed murals for the Zoo. Vaughn Parrish (’19 Illustration) created the underwater themed wall in Stingray Bay. Le’s motivation for the mural is simple — to bring happiness. “With everything that’s going on in the world right now, we need a spark of positivity and joy. I hope people read more…