Personal introspection + conceptual foundation
Sculpture students develop the ability to transfer challenging and abstract ideas into materials and forms. Practical skills are balanced with poetic, imaginative and cognitive capacities. The department embraces a wide range of techniques, materials, processes, and methods for contemporary artists while incorporating traditional and innovative technologies.
Alongside a philosophy that embraces personal introspection, the sculpture program emphasizes a strong technical and conceptual foundation for makers. We encourage diverse approaches to sculptural production including object making, installations, kinetics, performance, multi-media, sound, video, digital pieces, community art projects and collaborative ventures. Investigation and study of sculpture conceptual aspects, historical precedents and current sculptural practice are emphasized. We prepare students for professional art practice in a global context.
“There is so much more you can do with a creative mind and skill set than just work in a studio... that’s what KCAI has shown me.”Siara Berry
Sculpture and Creative Writing, 2015
Associate Professor and Chair
Jill Downen’s art is a focused investigation of the symbiotic relationship between the human body and architecture expressed in temporal installations, drawings, and models. Downen was selected for the 2004 Great Rivers Biennial, a grant and exhibition sponsored by Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis and the Gateway Foundation. In 2009, she was awarded a MacDowell Colony National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and in 2010, she was named a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellow. Downen holds a B.F.A. degree from the Kansas City Art Institute and an M.F.A. degree from Washington University.
Associate Professor and former Chair of the Sculpture Department at the Kansas City Art Institute, Michael Wickerson is a graduate of the University of Waterloo and York University in Canada. He has exhibited internationally in North America and Europe, collaborating with architects, engineers, programmers, and designers. Recognized as an accomplished Python developer, Wickerson’s creative research incorporates mathematics, computer science, computational and parametric design, digital modeling, and programming as they relate to metal casting, data visualization, machine learning, and robotics.
Mellenbruch’s work spans a variety of mediums with an emphasis on public sculpture and research intensive socially engaged projects. He has received numerous awards including a Creative Capital Award, the Charlotte Street Foundation Visual Artist Award, two Rocket Grant Awards, a KCMO Municipal Art Commission Grant and an East Ninth Street Grant funded by Art Place America. Mellenbruch regularly works as an embedded artist on interdisciplinary research projects including the Virtual Vector Laboratory, an ongoing international research project focused on insect borne disease, and the NIH funded RII Track-2 FEC: Marshalling Diverse Big Data Streams to Understand Risk of Tick-borne Diseases in the Great Plains. Mellenbruch’s sculptures are in the permanent collections of the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, the Kauffman Foundation, The Kauffman Memorial Garden, the Kansas City Zoo, Lakeside Nature Center, Johnson County Community College, Hyde Park, 18Broadway Garden and Powell Gardens. Mellenbruch earned his BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and MFA from the Maine College of Art.
Once you declare your major, sculpture students take the following core courses as they progress from sophomore to senior year. For additional electives and liberal arts courses, download the complete Course Catalog.
- Sophomore Sculpture I & II
- Materials & Processes I & II
- Junior Sculpture I & II
- Professional Practice
- Senior Sculpture I & II
Professional practice is a required component of the KCAI program in which students benefit enormously from insights provided by visiting artists, scholars and professionals. Emphasis is placed on individual development of writing skills including the creation of professional documents such as resumes, artist statements, web presence and image portfolios.
Jobs + Internships
KCAI sculpture majors have worked or interned for the following businesses and studios: Huft Projects, Plaster Craft, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Plug Projects, Dimensional Innovations, A. Zahner Architectural Metals, Paul Mesner Puppets, Make Studios, Discovery World, Milwaukee, WI, BkMk Press. Sculpture department alumni have achieved success through creative employment at places such as The St. Louis Science Center, The Field Museum, the Exploratorium in San Francisco, and as artists running their own professional studios.
Many artists visit the sculpture studios each year to share their knowledge and inspiration with KCAI students. Here are a few that have recently stopped by:
Helène Aylon, Karyn Olivier, Daniel Shea, Matthew Ritchie, Miki Baird, Crystal Brown, Jo Kamm, Jessica Borusky, RaShawn Griffin, Adriane Herman, Barry Anderson, Dylan Mortimor, Linda Lighton, Garry Noland, Jarrett Melenbruck, Sean Kelley, Marcie Miller Gross, Charles Schwall, Michael Alm, and Susan White.