September 22, 2020

Current Perspectives Lecture Series Goes Virtual

An Oscar-winning screenwriter and an iconic graphic designer are among the four notable artists Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI) will welcome this fall to present at the Current Perspectives virtual lecture series. These presentations by a diverse group of artists and scholars will inform, engage and celebrate relevant topics and practices in contemporary art and culture. They will also engage with students through a series of virtual roundtable discussions and critiques.

Each lecture will take place at 7 p.m. online. Tickets are required and all events are free and open to the public. Click here for more detailed information

Aram Han Sifuentes: Art in Action
September 24
Aram Han Sifuentes uses art to disrupt, unsettle, and rupture dominant narrative to assert, demand, and claim spaces for those who are commonly othered, particularly for immigrants of color. She will talk about her projects U.S. Citizenship Test Sampler, Protest Banner Lending Library, and Official Unofficial Voting Station: Voting for All Who Legally Can’t, and how she uses art to confront social and racial injustices against the disenfranchised and riff off of official institutions and bureaucratic processes to reimagine new, inclusive, and humanized systems of civic engagement and belonging.

Amir Zaki: Building & Becoming
October 22
Amir Zaki has an ongoing interest in the rhetoric of authenticity, as it is associated with photography as an indexical media. Simultaneously, he is deeply invested in exploring digital technology’s transformative potential to disrupt that assumed authenticity. However, his interest is not in utilizing digital trickery as illustration to undermine a photograph’s veracity. In fact, Zaki often creates hybridized photographs that carefully use the vocabulary of the documentary style so that the viewer’s belief in its veracity remains intact, at least initially. He constructs scenes that are somewhat off-register, ‘out of key’, and ever so slightly faux. He often uses the architectural and organic landscape of California as a subject, as it seems particularly appropriate to his process.

Emory Douglas: Some American History
October 29
Iconic graphic artist Emory Douglas will give both a historical and present-day context to his artworks at his presentation Some American History. Douglas created the visual identity for the Black Panther Party and his images graphics came to symbolize the struggles of the social justice movement. As the Revolutionary Artist and Minister of Culture for the Black Panther Party from 1967 until the 1980s. His work was characterized by strong graphic images of young African American men, women, and children. He used the Black Panther community newspaper’s popularity to spur people to action, portraying the poor with empathy and as being unapologetic and ready to struggle for basic human rights. Douglas continues to create art with social and political concerns. Art that Transcends borders

Kevin Willmott
November 12
Kevin Willmott, director, screenwriter, and professor of Film and Media Studies at the University of Kansas, will show a montage of his films at his presentation Race, History and the Urgency of Now. He has made a career out of making movies that examine race in America including Ninth Street, C.S.A: Confederate States of America, The Only Good Indian, Destination Planet Negro, The 24th, and Jayhawkers.  He also won an Academy Award for screenwriting for BlacKkKLansman, the story of an undercover black detective who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan. Willmott also co-wrote with director Spike Lee, Da 5 Bloods about four African American veterans returning to Vietnam, which premiered on Netflix this past summer to rave reviewsHe has a long history of working on social justice issues including fighting for the rights of the poor, creating two Catholic Worker shelters for the homeless, and forcing the integration of several long-standing segregated institutions. He attended graduate studies at New York University, Tisch School of the Arts where he earned an M.F.A. in Dramatic Writing.

October 26, 2020

New Social Practice Minor Immerses Students in Socially Engaged Art

A new minor is helping KCAI students engage in the world as artists. Through studio and liberal arts courses, the multidisciplinary Social Practice minor arms them with the knowledge and skills needed to address their role in society and consider the cultural, economic, environmental, and political conundrums of today. Grounded in providing a strong historical, conceptual, and material foundation, it prepares students for a socially engaged practice beyond graduation into their professional careers. The minor, formally a certificate program, it’s one of only ten Social Practice minors at AICAD schools. According to Program Head Sean Nash, it is one hundred percent relevant for the current social/political climate. “The discipline of social practice emerged out of activism and it will never be separated from that history. Students are acutely aware that social practice can help them address public-facing social problems like racial injustice and climate change,” Nash said. Students in any major are eligible for the minor. They take 16 credit hours including three core classes Intro to Social Practice, Collaborative Art Classes, and Capstone Seminar and nine hours of electives from a wide range of course offerings across disciplines. The interdisciplinary nature of the program — the focus on collaboration instead of individual making — has changed the way Senior Elinor Noyes read more…

October 26, 2020

KCAI Voices Fly High in Community Flag Installation

With less than a week to go until the election, the KCAI community is putting their beliefs, hopes, and concerns on display in A Flag that Flies High Enough, an installation of over 260 mixed-media flags on the Jannes Library lawn. Sponsored by the Center of Contemporary Practice, the project celebrates the fundamental right to vote, and the flag is a fitting symbol to share collective, yet individual voices. According to Contemporary Practice Co-Chairs Jordan Stemplemen, Assistant Professor of Creative Writing and Marie McInerney, Assistant Professor and Interim Chair of Fiber, “To ‘flag something’ is to draw attention to information that you think is important, crucial. Flags are visual communication tools that speak in symbols, emblems, and beliefs. They are tools of rebellion, oppression, and independence. Flags signal. Flags obscure. Flags demand. Flags inspire. Flags educate.” For students, the installation gives them an opportunity to share their voice about topics that are important to them. Hung Le (Junior, Fiber) is currently doing an independent study on the Vietnam War. His flag is a contrast between the national and international Vietnam flags and a symbolic representation of the different historical versions of the war — the one he learned in school and the real, devastating experiences of the Vietnamese people. He hopes that his work will read more…