President's Message

In 2017, Vanderslice Hall will undergo a second “facelift” that will make it the envy of the neighborhood!

Thanks to generous support from the William T. Kemper Foundation, Vanderslice Hall has begun to return to its original elegant architectural presence, following a careful restoration to the outside of the building which included stonework repair, tuck-pointing the brick, new windows and replacing damaged gutters and downspouts. This spring, we’ll begin work on the new Mildred Lane Kemper south terrace, to be dedicated in her memory.  The south terrace will become a gathering space for the campus, and a new awning will be reconstructed to add functionality to the area. Historic photographs show the south terrace had a long and wide canvas retractable canopy/awning to provide shade, large planters and electric lanterns, and a very different paved surface.  This visual record is guiding the renewal work by Gastinger Walker Architects as we recover the ‘lost terrace,’ and tie it into a renovation of the Vanderslice reception rooms.

With the help of a terrific gift from the Dickinson Family Foundation, the whole ground floor will have a new hardwood surface; while the walls, fittings, furniture, lighting, and color scheme of the reception rooms will give it the grandeur they deserve – and we’ll be bringing back the two ‘lost doors’ that lead from the main corridor into these rooms.  The plans also include repairing the terrace floor and steps, and re-landscaping the surrounding grounds. French doors will connect the Vanderslice reception rooms to the outdoor terrace to create a natural flow in and out of the two spaces. The purple-martin bird-house and the large green ceramic frogs will return in the form of facsimile reproductions from our KCAI workshops! We will also add a wheelchair ramp, and lift from the garden level directly into the reception rooms.

After its completion, probably by mid-August, the Mildred Lane Kemper Terrace will once again be a lovely social hub providing beautiful views of the campus green.



ADA Logos

Mark your calendars now for the Art & Design Auction on Saturday, June 3 when KCAI’s newest studios and plaza will be the epicenter for a fabulous evening of fine art and festive fare. It’s an event so big and bold, it only happens every other year!

Honorary Chairs Sue and Lewis Nerman and Event Chairs Abby and Alex Wendel are planning an evening perfect for friends who share a passion for supporting art and design education. Keith Jacobshagen (’65 design) is the Star Artist and one of his signature landscape paintings will be featured in the live auction.  The silent auction, hosted by Paddle8, an international art auction site, will open two weeks before the event, giving you plenty of time to bid on artwork created and donated by distinguished KCAI alumni.  The live auction will feature an auctioneer from Sotheby’s!

Proceeds from this event support scholarships for students.

There are several ways you can get involved with the Auction and show your support for KCAI:

  • Donate artwork to the auction          .
  • Become a sponsor. Sponsorship levels range from $1,500 to $25,000 and come with a variety of benefits.
  • Create your own special sponsorship. This is your chance to stand out from the crowd by sponsoring a specific element of the event.  Beginning at $7,500, choose to sponsor a dinner, cocktails or art catalog, just to name a few.

To learn more about the auction and how you can get involved, go to or contact Lauren Weinhold at

Alumni News

Akio_TakamoriCeramist Akio Takamori

We are saddened by the news that a member of our Kansas City Art Institute alumni community Akio Takamori (’76 ceramics) passed away on January 11 from pancreatic cancer. He worked up until the last hours possible in studio doing what he loved most before passing away peacefully at home surrounded by his family.

Born in Nobeoka, Japan, in 1950, Akio came to the United States to attend the Kansas City Art Institute. He would go on to become one of world’s great ceramic artists through work that focused on the deepest of human relationships and his personal and cultural identity as a dual citizen of cultures both East and West.

 Additional details regarding his memorial will be forthcoming. Our deepest condolences go out to his family, friends and colleagues.

Alumna Gini Garcia’s company featured on national televisionimage007

In late January or early February, Gini Garcia’s (’89 industrial design) company Garcia Art Glass will be showcased on Billion Dollar Buyer on CNBC. She’ll compete for the opportunity to partner with billionaire hospitality mogul Tilman Fertitta whose company Landrys’ Inc. supplies goods to more than 50 restaurant, hotel and entertainment brands. Read more

EdgarIMG_7523-2Edgar Leon Davis Jr. (’84 painting and printmaking), age 54, died peacefully on Nov. 27, 2016 surrounded by loved ones in the comfort of his home following a four-year battle with Multiple Myeloma and Plasma Cell Leukemia. 

Edgar and his wife of 28 years, Shari Cornish, settled into a happy life in Vermont following two years in Hendersonville, NC; three years in Los Angeles and 12 years in Minneapolis/St. Paul.  Prior to his diagnosis, Edgar worked as a substitute teacher in area schools and volunteered as a mentor.  In 2013, he and Shari became entrepreneurs opening The Whistle Emporium, a small retail store in Hardwick, Vt.  Edgar’s debonair presence and style on Main Street was beyond compare. The sincere interest he took in young people and his positive influence on their lives has become a legacy.

Edgar enthusiastically shared his many interests with everyone he encountered from every stage of his life. He was passionate about his work in theater and film. He was thrilled to have had the opportunity for his final performance to be a staged reading of the David Mamet play – RACE. Edgar was proud to be an active member of the Caspian Lake Lodge No. 87 – Free And Accepted Masons. Edgar loved music, books and art…but most of all he loved people.

Gregory Thomas, professor of design, director of Center for Design Research

Gregory Thomas, professor of design, director of Center for Design Research

Greg Thomas named Connected World Pioneer Award Winner

Connected World magazine has recognized Greg Thomas (’69 industrial design) as a leader in Internet of Things and machine to machine computing. Thomas is a professor in the School of Architecture, Design and Planning at the University of Kansas and the director of the Center for Design Research. He was recognized for working to improve his own metropolis by advancing sustainable connected cars and transportation systems and developing solutions for smart grids and connected energy platforms. Read more

Faculty News

David Terrill Receives Alumni Masters AwardDavid Terrill2

Miami University Regionals alumni and students presented the inaugural Alumni Masters Award to David Terrill, assistant professor of illustration at KCAI and head of the MICRO Agency class. The award honors Miami University Alumni who have earned a high level of expertise in their field.

Terrill will lecture at the university in Oxford, Ohio on Thursday, Feb 9 at 2 p.m. followed by an awards reception at 3 p.m.  The event is free and open to the public. Read more

Trey Hock Mirror Selfie.jpgTrey Hock’s Middle Aged Bathroom Selfie project covered in the Pitch

Annie Raab of the Pitch went on a bathroom crawl with Assistant Professor of Photography Trey Hock to flush out his popular Middle Aged Bathroom Selfie feed on Instagram. She said the project, ”….hits the social media trifecta: It’s amusing, consistent and visually pleasant.”   Read more 

Student News

FCwBC eblast finalFirst Cut Opens at KCAI Crossroads Gallery

FIRST CUT – PROTOTYPES & PROCESSES FROM THE KCAI DAVID T BEALS STUDIOS FOR ART AND TECHNOLOGY WITH BRYAN CZIBESZ, opens Jan. 18 at KCAI Crossroads Gallery: Center for Contemporary Practice. In addition to finished works made in the Beals Studios, the exhibition features the creative processes with the inclusion of prototypes, computer-aided drawings, experiments and documentation. The exhibit embraces the indeterminacy, experimentation, discovery and the potential of digitally fabricated art. It showcases elect student work across varied disciplines revealing the evolution of ideas as they engage technology.

Bryan Czibesz, one of the top makers in the field of ceramics using digital technologies, conducted a workshop at KCAI.  With the assistance of students, he created the 3D printer capable of printing directly with clay which will be on display and functioning in this exhibit. Read more