February 21, 2020

Héctor Casanova Illustrates Dedication to Public Art

In the historic Blue Hills neighborhood of Kansas City, the shuttered Pershing elementary school was an eyesore for residents and a target for vandals and taggers. Associate Professor of Illustration Héctor Casanova and his students recently installed brightly-colored murals on the outside of the brick building to showcase the history of the neighborhood. Now it’s a place of pride for the community.

The project, one of three Kansas City School District beautification efforts, is part of a required course for junior Illustration majors called US: Collaboration. Developed by Casanova when he started teaching at KCAI seven years ago, it exposes students to the inherently collaborative nature of Illustration, gives them experience working as a team with fellow students and clients, and demonstrates the powerful effect of public art.

“Artists make work that has an effect on the public – negative or positive. I want students to understand and embrace the power and responsibility that comes with the ability to reach thousands or millions of people. I tell my students to refine their skills so they can make compelling work that captures people’s attention,” said Casanova.

Casanova’s ongoing commitment to public art in Kansas City has led to a recent appointment to the Municipal Arts Commission (MAC). In this role, he’ll review all public art projects and work with the new airport design team to determine the type of art that will be installed throughout the airport.

“I believe that art, in general, works best when it’s available to everyone and they don’t have to go out of their way to encounter it. I’m honored to be in an art-centric city that proactively manages public art and makes it accessible to all residents,” said Casanova.

In addition to his MAC and KCAI teaching responsibilities, Casanova is a visiting artist at Northeast Middle School, located near KCAI’s first mural project at Scarritt Elementary School. Over the years, taggers have destroyed some of the murals and the middle school students are designing new ones. He hopes that by engaging middle-schoolers in this project, it will decrease tagging because they will take pride in the work they’ve created.

These days Casanova doesn’t have a lot of time for his art practice, which includes projects like the KCMO Grove Park mural. But, he says he doesn’t mind. “When I started teaching, I realized that with an army of students I can do much more that I can with my own two hands.”

That’s exactly what he’s doing: working with an army of students, artists and community members to make Kansas City a more colorful place to live.

April 7, 2020

Art School in the time of COVID-19: Support + Resilience + Community

April 7, 2020 How quickly life changed in a matter of weeks. We went from mid-term critiques to addressing a global pandemic by taking our curriculum virtual. Thanks to our dedicated faculty, KCAI is fostering a new way of learning, researching and making. As a school of art and design, we are a community full of innovators and creative problem solvers. That is how we intend to approach the exceptional situation that we find ourselves in.  Beginning last week, students and faculty are meeting through video conferencing, discussion boards, and conference calls – one-on-one and in groups. As this new way of living and learning unfolds, we will share the inspiring stories of creativity and resilience within our community. How has our faculty adapted studio-based classes to on-line teaching? What kinds of studio practices have students built at home? What does it mean to be an art student in the time of COVID-19? In the coming weeks, we will share with you stories of adaptation and perseverance. And someday (hopefully soon) we will recall how KCAI– its students, faculty and staff– was resilient in a time of turmoil.  Be well, Tony Jones ᴄʙᴇ The Nerman Family President

April 2, 2020

New KCAI Cares Fund Provides Student Relief

A Message From The Nerman Family President Tony Jones In the past month, we have adapted daily life to an entirely new version of “normal” and done things we never thought possible. We are in this together, yet each of us has experienced this pandemic in very personal ways. Several KCAI students have lost their employment during this time and many families are experiencing hardship. In this time of uncertainty, it’s comforting to know that KCAI is part of a supportive and generous community. For those who have reached out and asked how you can help, the college has created two ways to support our students and campus: KCAI Cares Fund. This newly created fund is in direct response to the growing and immediate needs of our students. KCAI Cares will provide financial assistance grants up to $300 for students who are unable to meet essential expenses, such as groceries, utilities or rent. KCAI Annual Fund. An existing fund that supports our commitment to every person at the college. During this time, KCAI is compensating faculty, staff, technicians, work study students, models in studios and those who provide services that our community relies upon like security, facilities and dining for residents who read more…