President's Message

Jason Pollen, innovative fiber artist, former chair of the fiber department at KCAI and dear friend to the college, is generously donating 40 percent of the proceeds from his current exhibition “Full Circle” to create the Jason Pollen Fund for Student Scholarships at KCAI. This magnificent exhibit is on view at MLB Designs and Boutique, 2020 Baltimore Ave., through Jan. 3, and is simply a “must-see.”

In the short time that I have known Jason, two things seem to define him and flow into his work – and they seem at first contradictory, but he reconciles them. Firstly, he has a broad world-view. He’s widely travelled, much sought as an artist and teacher, is an urbane sophisticate and gentle man-of-the-world, fully immersed in the excitement of his journeys, yet also totally dedicated to the frantic world of tango dancing – (I kid thee not!) – so he’s kinetic in intellect and physical spirit. His love of life, of art and music, all sing through a personality that celebrates every day with an appreciative zest.  

 Secondly, in marked contrast, he distills and focuses and makes work that often derives from things he has found within a few feet of his house; detritus, twigs, wee bones, items that we’d walk over but his eagle-eye has spotted and he’s picked up, and they become the materials he conjures within making his work.

Given the honor and pleasure of visiting his studio, one sees how that generous and larger sense of the world is drawn down to an intimate scale. The worktables are covered with masses of tiny found-objects, selected and saved items, pieces of fabric, skeins of wool and silk. This is his horizontal library of materials from which he selects, to sew onto or into his wall-hung vertical works. He loves playing games with changing scales and textures, colour and form, staying with a virtuoso performance of a theme-and-variations, or, as in the case of this exhibition at MLB Gallery, going back and revisiting ideas and bringing the creative wheel full-circle. I said first things, then said second and, well, there’s a third and it’s this – here is a master at work. Beautifully considered works like this are the serious reflection of a mature and seasoned creative vision, the fruit of decades of articulating ideas and manipulating materials, apparent playfulness that is ruled by a very careful hand. I see no contradictions here, this is Jason. There’s no picture of him, but this exhibition is in truth, a self-portrait.



Art of the Car Concours Reaches the Finish Line

Marshall Miller with 1931 Cord L29 CabrioletAfter 10 years of intense personal vision and involvement Marshall Miller announced that the Art of the Car Concours® has run its course. This unique event showcased vintage and historical vehicles and motorcycles from car collectors around the world, and brought thousands of visitors to our village green each June. What started as a simple idea became the ultimate success story, resulting in over $1 million donated to the KCAI student scholarship fund.

It was all due to the vision of Marshall Miller and it would never have happened if it had not been for his superhuman efforts each year! For KCAI, this event not only raised significant funds for students, but also introduced the idea that fine art and good design are found all around us.

Marshall was inspired to start the event by his late wife Janet, who served on the KCAI board for more than 20 years, the last five as Board Chair. He founded this event as a way to celebrate the beauty and unique histories of these “rolling sculptures” and to help students realize their dreams of studying art at KCAI.

“The Concours grew beyond my wildest expectations. My family, hundreds of volunteers, underwriters, sponsors and contributors worked hard to make this a unique, fun event. We had exhibitors from over 50 states and six to seven thousand attendees coming each year from 30 states.  It was a wonderful way to expose new people to KCAI,” said Marshall.

The proceeds from Art of the Car have helped many, many students. Marshall’s scholarships made the difference to students who otherwise would not have been able to attend the college. There cannot be enough sincere “thanks” for what he accomplished and we are profoundly grateful.

Student News

KCAI Student Team G-Code Takes First Place at Make48IMG_8752

Great ideas, great passion and creativity won the KCAI student team G-Code first place in Make48, the 48-hour-long invention competition that took place in October on the KCAI campus!

G-Code was comprised of four sculpture students: Hannah Fine (’17), Lila Ferber (’17), Clint Hanson (’18) and Robert Woodworth (’17), who competed with 16 other teams with members ages 11 to 70, to come up with a new household item. Teams had to make a prototype, then pitch their product to a panel of judges from Indiegogo, QVC, Handy Camel and Pivot International. G-Code’s top-secret kitchen invention was a crowd favorite and also won the People’s Choice Award!

As a result of winning the competition, their invention has a chance to be manufactured and sold on QVC and at the National Hardware Show. A public television documentary, which chronicled the competition, will continue to follow G-Code’s journey from product development to store shelves. The documentary will air next summer in at least 75 cities across the nation.

14900584_1087570024693384_2451856398573133332_n“Make48 is good old- and new-fashioned American inventiveness, creativity and smart-thinking at work, and is all about taking an idea to market. KCAI’s campus and Beals Studios were the ‘make’ part of Make48, and participants raved about our top notch facilities, tools and technology,” said The Nerman Family President Tony Jones.

CEO of Make48 and Handy Camel Tom Gray said that it couldn’t have been a better competition.  “KCAI was the perfect venue for this year’s competition. The Beals Studios and its fabrication capabilities were fantastic. The big difference between this event and ones in the past is that the top three winning teams’ products will be taken to market! This is unheard of in invention competitions and everyone is excited to showcase this for a television series that will air in the summer of 2017.”

Congratulations to G-Code for showing the world what we already know…that KCAI students are highly capable, brilliantly talented and dedicated artists, designers and inventors!

Illustration Students Draw at the Body World ExhibitFullSizeRender

Sophomore illustration students had an up-close view of the human body during a figure drawing session at Union Station’s Body World exhibit. According to Chair of Illustration Steve Mayse, “Since studying anatomy is a crucial part of our Organic Perceptions curriculum, and a foundation of figure drawing, Body Worlds was a wonderful teaching tool. It gave our students a unique opportunity to see inside the body and to get a better understanding of muscles and joints. I’m always looking for opportunities to expose our students to all the assets of our community and this exhibit was certainly a great resource for Kansas City.

Art of the Pumpkin

pumpkin2016_90Pumpkins and gourds carved into amazing works of art by KCAI Foundation students set the stage for a festive fall evening at the annual Art of the Pumpkin on Thursday, Oct. 27 at GEORGE, A Lifestyle Store. This wonderful eclectic shop is owned by KCAI Board of Trustee Member George Terbovich. GEORGE is located at 315 E. 55th St. in the Crestwood Shops.


Alumni News

IMG_0185ArtFare – A Delicious New Culinary Experience

What happens when you bring together nine of Kansas City’s top chefs and nine KCAI alumni and have them collaborate on beautiful, inventive food? You create a truly unique culinary experience, ArtFare. that benefits student scholarships and the preservation of Vanderslice Hall.

KCAI’s three auxiliaries, Sketch Box, Fireside and Vanderslice came together to plan and host this wonderful event, which honored long-time philanthropist and arts patron, Bobby Epsten of Epsten Gallery. The chef/artist pairs were Linda Duerr from the River Club and Nicole Brinkman (’02 painting); Clark Grant from Capital Grill and Asheer Akram (’07 sculpture); Martin and Katrin Heuser from Affare and Joey Watson (’14 ceramics); Sofia Varanka Hudson from Swoon Cookie Crafters and Kelly Porter (’97 printmaking); Lon and Stewart Lane from Lon Lane’s Inspired Occasions and Robyn Nichols (’79 design); Pat McCroy from Green Dirt Farms and Meredith Host (’01 ceramics); T.J. Stark from JJ’s Restaurant and Gerry Trilling (’89 painting); Celina Tio from Julian/The Belfry and Sherry Leedy (’74 painting); and Brandon Winn from Webster House and Bernal Koehrsen (’92 ceramics).