The Leedy Foundation, founded in 2016 by KCAI Professor Jim Leedy, is dedicated to fostering a vibrant art community through the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center (LVAC). The foundation's mission to educate, exhibit, mentor, promote, and preserve the legacy of Midwestern artists aligns seamlessly with KCAI's own goals of nurturing artistic talent and academic excellence.

The "Mother and… Project" promises to be a landmark exhibition, showcasing the intricate relationship between motherhood and artistic practice. Dr. Eleanor Lim-Midyett, an Assistant Professor in KCAI's Liberal Arts Department, will serve as Project Director and Co-Curator. She will be joined by Professor Laura Berman, a renowned printmaker and multimedia artist from KCAI's Printmaking Department, who will act as Project Consultant and Grants Administrator. Courtney Wasson, Executive Director of the Kansas City Artists Coalition and a KCAI alumna, will co-curate the exhibition, while Erin Woodworth, the gallery manager of LVAC and granddaughter of Jim Leedy, will serve as the Authorizing Official.

The project will feature contributions from a host of KCAI faculty and alumni, including Professors Laura Berman, Julie Farstad, Diana Heise, and Samantha Krukowski, in addition to staff member Cory Imig, Director of Alumni Relations & Professional Practice Center. Notably, Debbie Barrett-Jones, a 2007 KCAI alumna, will also participate. These artists, along with others, will bring diverse perspectives and disciplines to the exhibition, which aims to explore and celebrate the multifaceted roles of artist-mothers.

Scheduled to run from September 1, 2025, to December 1, 2025, the exhibition will be hosted at the LVAC. It will include panel discussions, an exhibition catalog, a dedicated website, and a podcast, all designed to foster community and highlight the unique narratives of artist-mothers. The "Mother and… Project" is set to make a significant contribution to feminist and art-historical scholarship, demonstrating how motherhood can inspire and expand creative expression.

The participating artists, representing a variety of mediums and cultural backgrounds, include Mona Cliff, LaToya Hobbs, Sarah Irvin, Priya Suresh Kambli, Linda Lighton, Beili Liu, Adrienne Maples, Amy Meissner, Althea Murphy-Price, Emma Nishimura, Sonie Ruffin, and Nancy Friedemann Sanchez. Each artist brings a unique voice to the exhibition, reflecting the diverse experiences and creative practices of artist-mothers.

NEA Chair Maria Rosario Jackson, PhD, praised the project, stating, "Projects like the Leedy Foundation’s 'Mother and…Project' exemplify the creativity and care with which communities are telling their stories, creating connection, and responding to challenges and opportunities in their communities—all through the arts. Investments in art and design enhance cultural vitality, health, wellbeing, infrastructure, and the economy."

For more information about the "Mother and… Project" and other NEA grant recipients, visit