May 15, 2020

A Campus Update From The Nerman Family President Tony Jones

A marvelous moment in KCAI history has just occurred­–McCown-Gordon Construction handed over to us the Paul and Linda DeBruce Hall building on Oak Street, our new centre for Art History, Liberal Arts and Student Services. This dramatic design by Matthew Hufft was built brilliantly, and on time !  Once able to do so, we will host a celebratory coffee-and-cake morning as we did with the Barbara Marshall Residence Hall, so that our neighbors and friends can see this beautiful building.

As we look ahead to reopening, KCAI is following all local, state, federal and CDC guidelines, and continues to monitor the situation. To date, we’ve postponed commencement activities and plan to celebrate our graduating seniors with an opening for the annual BFA exhibition on Friday, August 21, with graduation on Saturday, August 22. Our speaker and Honourary Doctorate recipient will be the Director of the Art Institute of Chicago, James Rondeau, and we will also confer our Honourary Doctorate upon one of America’s finest public artists, sculptor Alice Aycock.

Other changes include ArtPop officially moving to May 2021. Our next Art & Design Auction will be in June 2022.

Continuing Education (CE) programming for June has been moved online.  This includes all adult classes and youth ArtVenture camps.  In an abundance of caution, we are suspending Educators Art Lab this summer.  Our CE team is working diligently to create virtual experiences for our educators and participants.  By June 1, we will decide about PCAL (Pre-College Art Lab) and July CE programs and classes.

It is currently our intention to open the whole college this fall. We are evaluating how studio courses will work and have moved back the fall schedule so that classes begin Monday, August 31. We will decide “for sure” in mid-June and will communicate plans at that time.

I’ve already mentioned DeBruce Hall and work also progresses in the former Student Living Centre dorm, which is being converted to provide a splendid new ground-floor gallery plus six floors of studios for our largest departments, Illustration and Animation. Dennis Strait of Gould Evans ( who designed our very successful David T. Beals III Studio for Art & Technology ) and our contractor A.L.Huber is scheduled to hand over the building to us in mid-August, just in time for the next academic year.

In spite of so many uncertainties, KCAI remains a college of choice. Beyond wonderful facilities, we have great programs and people, such as Associate Professor of Creative Writing Anne Boyer who just won the Pulitzer Prize in General Non-Fiction for her book The Undying: Pain, Vulnerability, Mortality, Medicine, Art, Time, Dreams, Data, Exhaustion, Cancer, and Care (published by Macmillan).

Crystal balls don’t work, so I’m going to fall back on that deathless phrase “We’ll Know When We Know” and we’ll tell you, when we do !  It’s a careful balancing act to deliver the curriculum amid social distance regulations, yet we’re committed to doing all we can for the students to have a safe and positive KCAI experience.

Stay healthy and keep washing your hands !

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…