February 22, 2021

Laura Berman print at Children’s Mercy Research Institute shows heart

Image: Bodyscape by Laura Berman

On the first floor of the new Children’s Mercy Research Institute (CMRI), in a corridor around the corner from the cafe, a striking 60” X 80” four-frame print with wave-like marks in shades of blue, orange, purple, green, and yellow hangs on a light-filled wall. It’s one of six commissioned artworks that adorn this new building, and for the artist, Professor of Printmaking Laura Berman, it’s extraordinarily meaningful. Her sons Alexander (5) and Jovian (11) are cardiology patients at Children’s Mercy Hospital and the work is inspired by their EKGs. 

“I feel like I left a piece of my heart, actually my sons’ hearts, on a wall for everyone to see,” she said. 

Laura’s relationship with Children’s Mercy began when Alexander was only six days old. His heart started beating so fast that he turned grey, and his panicked parents rushed him to the emergency room. The doctors restarted his heart and diagnosed him with a heart condition called Wolfe Parkinson White Syndrome (WPW), which causes a heart to beat abnormally fast because of an extra electrical current. He was admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit, and his parents started the long process of learning how to keep their son healthy through careful monitoring and medication. 

Three years after Alexander’s diagnosis, they discovered Jovian had the same condition. Since he was older, he was eligible for a surgical procedure known as catheter ablation. He’s cured now and Alexander is off his medication. The boys continue to be monitored at Children’s Mercy where they are part of a WPW research study. 

During the virtual grand opening of CMRI last week, people got a sneak peek into ways they integrate art and science throughout the facility. They put an emphasis on fine art and invited local artists to submit proposals. A selection committee made final decisions based on artistic excellence, originality and integrating science and art with children’s health and wellbeing. Six artists were chosen and three have links to KCAI — Alumni Dylan Mortimer (’02 Painting), former faculty member Mary Ann Strandell, and Laura.

“All along I have felt a connection to the project through my personal experience and my interest in science. I’m a lifelong printmaker and printmaking to me is an art form that merges science and art together. To bring all of those experiences into this work has been profound for me,” Laura said. 

For Tom Curran, Ph.D., FRS, Senior Vice President, Executive Director and Chief Scientific Officer at Children’s Mercy Research Institute, integrating science and meaningful art throughout the research institute and incorporating the work of local artists was key. “Laura’s artwork, inspired by her personal connection to Children’s Mercy, reflects the work we do every day – to find answers to pediatric medicine’s most challenging questions and improve the health and wellbeing of children everywhere,” he said.  

Laura is grateful that her print is on display in a place that is so important to her family. “I love that I get to honor the work that goes on in the hospital in such a personal way. It ties us even closer to the cardiology department and the people who work with our children,” she said.

About Laura Berman

Professor Laura Berman creates images that describe multiplicity, collections and sequences. She has created site-specific exhibitions and exhibited her print work at numerous galleries and museums around the country and internationally, including Aspen Art Museum (Aspen, CO), Círculo del Arte (Barcelona, Spain), Dalarnas Museum (Falun, Sweden), Long View Gallery, (Washington D.C.), and Boise Art Museum (Boise, ID). Berman has been a visiting artist at over 25 institutions internationally and has worked as an artist-in-residence at Frans Masereel Centrum (Kasterlee, Belgium), Pele Prints (St. Louis, MO), Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop (New York City, NY) and Anderson Ranch Arts Center (Snowmass Village, CO) among many other places. She has been teaching at KCAI since 2002 where she loves to share her passion for printmaking and book arts with students. You can see more of her work at lauracrehuetberman.com  or Instagram

August 8, 2022

KCAI Names Allison J. Puff Executive VP of Academic Affairs

Allison J. Puff has joined KCAI as Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs. An accomplished academic and administrative leader, a professor of visual communications, and a lifelong artist, Puff joins the college after more than two decades at Farmingdale College in New York. Her most recent position was Academic Program Manager, where she created and revised academic programs and initiated community college admission agreements that helped to increase enrollment. Prior, she was Associate Provost, Associate Dean of Business, and Chair of the Department of Visual Communications. In her new role at KCAI, Puff will have primary leadership responsibilities for planning, implementing, and shepherding academic programs. She’ll execute strategic plans and create transformational initiatives to further strengthen academic excellence. “I have admired Allison’s career as a practitioner, educator, and leader and relied on her as a member of the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum Education Board. Her track record positions her to make an immediate and lasting impact on the college,” said Nerman Family President Ruki Neuhold-Ravikumar. Puff has an AST from Pennsylvania College of Art & Design, a BA in English and Communication Arts from Ursinus College, an MFA in Illustration as Visual Essay from the School of Visual Arts, and read more…

June 21, 2022

KCAI Hosts ICON11

Artwork by Sarah and Colin Walsh We’re showing off our beautiful campus and welcoming 300 visitors from throughout the globe next Wednesday and Thursday, June 29 and 30 for ICON11: The Illustration Conference. KCAI is a Platinum sponsor of the event. ICON workshops will be held in the Tony Jones Studios, Epperson Auditorium, William T. Kemper Painting Studios, and Printmaking in the East Building. The Painting Studios are the setting for an Education Symposium happy hour from 4-6 p.m. on Wednesday and for coffee on Wednesday and Thursday from 7-8 a.m. Additional seminars are at the Nelson-Atkins Auditorium and other locations around town. The ICON11 Exhibition will be on display at Studios Inc July 1-29. One-third of the workshop presenters are KCAI faculty members including Illustration Lecturer Elizabeth Baddeley, Professor of Printmaking Laura Berman, Illustration/Printmaking Lecturer Michelle Dreher, Professor of Illustration John Ferry, Chair of Graphic Design Tyler Galloway, Assistant Professor of Graphic Design Lisa Maione, Illustration Lecturer Dean Kube, Assistant Professor of Graphic Design Adam Lucas, Illustration Lecturer Frank Norton, and Associate Professor of Illustration David Terrill. Assistant Professor of Illustration Hector Casanova is presenting at the Educational Symposium and 20 KCAI students are volunteering at the conference. Bravo read more…