September 24, 2021

Cyan Meeks’ project for the prairie leads to reclamation of land and community

In 1992 Associate Professor of Filmmaking Cyan Meeks (‘95 New Media) was driving down Highway 50 on her way to start classes at KCAI when she ran into the tallgrass prairie in the Flint Hills. 

She fell in love with its subtle beauty and thought it was just as breathtaking as the mountains. Years later, it has become the inspiration for a documentary Reclamation Meridian that she has been working on for two years.  

 “When you’re unfamiliar with a space, it’s just a space. When you spend a lot of time there, it becomes a place. When I look across the prairie, where the sky meets the land, it’s like looking across the ocean. There’s a psychological impact of the possibility of infinity, humanity and the universe,” she said. 

The film is part of a bigger project called Flint Hills Counterpoint, a collaboration between Cyan, cellist and composer Susan Mayo, and the community of rural Marion County, Kansas to investigate and engage the last remaining vestiges of the tallgrass prairie, the most decimated ecosystem in North America. It follows the transformation of a 14-acre plot of prairie land from the view of the land and the community. It will be shown in June 2022 at a site-specific audiovisual performance that interprets the experience and its encounter with this small rural Kansas county—working together to not only reclaim the native ecosystem but to embark on community reclamation as well. 

“It started out just being about the reclamation of the land. As I worked on the land, the community started coming out. Eighty-year-old Marilyn brought me fresh baked bread wrapped in newspaper. Local high school students came and cleared the land. It became a community project, not just a project by two artists,” Cyan said. 

The project is receiving national attention. Cyan was recently selected as a 2021 Interchange Artist Grant Fellow and recipient of a $20,000 grant by the Mid-America Arts Alliance and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The grant acknowledges the role of individual artists as change agents and connectors in the cities and towns where they reside. 

This is the second major grant the project has received. In 2020, a $50,000 Our Town Grant from the National Endowment of the Arts was awarded to the Chamber Music at the Barn and Prairie Muses to fund Flint Hills Counterpoint.

Cyan is a cross-disciplinary artist who integrates filmmaking, photography, sound design, performance, social practice, curation, and media study into her practice. Her collaborative and solo works have been exhibited internationally, including at the Sundance Film Festival, New Directors/ New Films Festival at MoMA, Deuxieme Manifestation International Video et Art Electronique, Glasgow World of Film International Film Festival, and more. She joined KCAI in 2008 and is on sabbatical working on her film through August 2022.

January 26, 2022

Welcome Back, Students!

Here we go again!  This isn’t the way that we hoped to start the new year, but the highly contagious Omicron is bringing new challenges to our campus community. With precautions in place, we’re starting the semester cautiously optimistic. Our COVID protocols have been designed with one goal in mind – keeping our campus community safe.  Some of the spring 2022 guidelines include: Masks are required indoors on campus. Each student was given a K95 mask at the beginning of the semester.  KCAI strongly encourages everyone to get vaccinated and boosted.  We will continue to offer free vaccine and booster clinics for our community.  Review all the current Covid protocols at https://kcai.edu/covid19_updates/. Our current plan is to host two in-person graduation — one for 2022 graduates and another for the 2020 and 2021 graduates who weren’t able to graduate in person, due to the pandemic.  Both ceremonies will be on Saturday, May 14 and more details will be shared soon.  We know this hasn’t been easy, and we thank you for your diligence and patience. With your help, we’ve been able to navigate this ongoing , ever changing pandemic. We’ll continue to meet regularly with the  Kansas City. Missouri Health read more…

January 26, 2022

Join us on June 4 for Art & Design Auction

Art & Design Auction June 4, 2022 Visit the Event Page Fabulous art, festive food & drink, inspired entertainment, and the iconic KCAI campus will set the stage for the Art & Design Auction on June 4, 2022. Julia Irene Kaufman will serve as Honorary Chair while Meyer and Mindy Sosland are Co-Chairs of this signature fundraising event. Attendees will browse and bid on hundreds of live and silent auction items donated by faculty, alumni, and friends of KCAI. Through an exciting collaboration with A. Zahner, 15 student designs will be selected through a competition to have their concept turned into reality and auctioned that night. ADA also features a “Marketplace” shop featuring handcrafted jewelry, art, textiles, and ceramics available for purchase. And it’s all for a good cause!   “We are honored to serve as this year’s Art & Design Auction event chairs for this biennial tradition, which raises funds for student scholarships. The incredible work generously donated by KCAI alumni, faculty, staff, and friends represents some of the best artists in Kansas City. Along with Honorary Chair Julia Irene Kauffman, we can’t wait to welcome you to the KCAI campus for this special evening,” said Meyer and Mindy Sosland, read more…