Monthly Archives: March 2016

Throwback Thursday – KCAC Forum Nov 1984

KCAC Forum Magazine November 1984

by Sally Huggins

Is using art to make a political statement “trivial?” Or is it important to use art to communicate your concerns? And when should artists get involved?

These issues and others were discussed by a panel of experts at the annual meeting of the Kansas City Artists Coalition, October 3.  About 40 people attended.

Making an overt political statement with one’s art could be considered propaganda, said panelist David Perkins, editor of the Chouteau Review and an arts critic and commentator.

“It strikes me as propaganda,” Perkins said.  “Not only are you dated but you’re not just an artist, you’re a propagandist.”

Bill Crist, artist and associate professor of art at UMKC, said he had spent much of his career learning to overcome the taboo he learned early against using art to make a political statement.  His early development in art was during the 1950’s and 60’s when artists ran the risk of being branded unpatriotic if they spoke out against the cold war or the Red Scare.

But, Cris said, he realized by not making a statement he was making one.  He now uses his artwork to address the problem of world peace.

“Like it or not, we artists are in it up to our necks,” he said.  “The biggest taboo against overt comment with art is the inability to sell it.”

Art and politics have been intertwined for a number of years, said Romalyn Tilghman, regional representative for the Plains states for the National Endowment of the Arts.

“Art runs the risk of changing people’s minds,” she aid. “If you change enough people’s minds, you run the risk of changing society.”

Tilghman said both major political parties dealt with the arts in their platforms this year.  She also noted that groups such as Artists for Mondale, comprised of four artists who are donating their works to help get Mondale elected, are emerging.

Artists can influence issues through their involvement in organizations said Joy Rushfelt, fiber artist and vice president of the American Crafts Council.  Legislative issues such as consignment laws and copyright laws can be affected by artists’ organizations, she said.

“It’s easy for artists to be critical of the system they live in our governmental systems they have to deal with,” Rushfelt said.  “Artists tend to consider themselves individuals, self-sufficient.  They forget their ability to make changes.”

Using one’s art to make statements about the danger of nuclear arms race or some such broad cause is not good, though, according to Perkins.

“To take the cause of world peace is terribly trivial.  It’s so broad and wise it hardly makes any sense,” he said. “It’s like supporting being young.”

Perkins said expressing a statement about a small issue was better than making a grand statement about world peace, which could become passe very quickly.  Perkins also raised discussion from the audience through his comments about the Nicaraguan poets and the revolution in that country.  He called both frauds.

The panelists said American art tended to be much less political than that in other countries, particularly where artists are supported by the state, such as in China and Poland.

Rushfelt said that artists could make statements in ways besides through their art and encouraged them to do so.  She suggested that artists work to create interest in their areas of concern so that change could be made.

Tilghman said that action on issues of interest to artists has come most often through the states rather than Congress.

Lynn Bretz, former art editor for the Lawrence Journal World and a commentator on KANU radio, was the moderator.

kelly conner

KC Artist Lifestyle is back and we are so very excited to hang out this week with Kansas City jewelry designer Kelly Conner of MeritMade (@meritmade).

Kelly graduated from the University of Kansas with a BFA in metals in 2003. After a 10 year stint in the corporate world she dug out her tools of the trade and began her path towards doing what she loved. At the beginning of this year she made a full transition to her business MeritMade and devotes 100% of her work time and energies to the business she began one and a half years ago. Here are a few words from Kelly about MeritMade…

“Our contemporary society is flooded with mass produced and disposable jewelry. MeritMade strives to accomplish the opposite. We strongly believe in quality over quantity. We believe that design can be beautiful, classic, and reverent to the materials. We believe in creating future heirlooms that are meant to be worn and loved for generations.

Each piece of MeritMade jewelry is crafted by hand using traditional metalsmithing techniques with a modern and minimal design aesthetic. You will often find unique stones, fossils or found materials used as centerpieces that reflect a scientific and childlike curiosity.”

We are looking forward to seeing what a week in the life of Kelly (@meritmade) is all about, but since we just can’t wait, here are a few images of Kelly’s work and past Instagram images…

Conner_Kelly_Image-1-WEB_AL_4_16   Conner_Kelly_Image-4-WEB_AL_4_16   Conner_Kelly_Image-5-WEB_AL_4_16

Be sure to follow Kelly on her KCAC Instagram journey Thursday, March 31st – Tuesday, April 5th!

If you missed any of our previous Artist Lifestyle Artists you can always catch up on the KCAC Instagram (@kcartistscoalition) to see what has been happening or search all social media with the hashtags: #kcartistlifestyle #kcacartistlifestyle

Throwback Thursday – KCAC Forum May 1984

KCAC Forum Magazine May 1984

Three Women Artists: A Personal View
by Leonard Koenig

How does the woman artist fare in these changing times and is the Midwest a garden or desert for artists? These were some of the issues addressed at the recent Gender, Geography and Art conference.

The theme of the conference dealt with women artists in the Midwest.  The three visual artists at the session I attended all came to artistic maturity in Kansas City.  They all gave personal accounts (some quite confessional) regarding forces that both nourished and inhibited them as women artists in this region.

As I sat and listened to their presentations, two themes seemed to emerge: first, struggling against the male dominated and sexist local art scene in the 1960s and second, feeling more comfortable and reassured during the emergence of the Woman’s Movement in the early 1970s.

For both Donna Bachmann and Ann Bagby this seemed particularly to be the pattern.  Both seem to struggle with an identity crisis at a male dominated Kansas City Art Institute during the mid 1960s. They both met with hostility from male counterparts as they tried to balance a personal female aesthetic with the current art dogma in what they described as an art environment antithetical to women artists.

Although Bachmann made some bold attempts to deal with her female experience in undergraduate painting themes, both she and Bagby only felt really connected after leaving the Art Institute and being helped by the Women’s Movement.  As Bagby mentions “the Women’s Movement gave me permission to be myself.”  Their generation of younger women artists developed a new identity infused with the ability to seal with formerly unpopular (Feminist) themes.

The last of this trio belongs to an older generation and seems less affected by some of the more obvious bias towards women artists.

Pat Duncan, rather than dwell on internal struggles, talked with some conviction about her involvement with the Ecology movement.  More specifically her struggles to save the tall grass prairies.  No mean feat when one must take on the male world of Kansas cattle ranchers.  Unlike the other women on the panel, Duncan’s experience studying photography at the Art Institute moved her away from painting towards a successful involvement with photography.

Certainly it is impossible to shove aside the layers of discrimination against women artists.  So when these artists, as Joyce Kozloff mentions “proclaim they are creating art from specifically feminine aspects of their lives they encounter resistance.” This shows that culture is certainly not genderless.  All art history texts (until recently) are living proof of the historical oblivion that women artists have fallen into.

As I sat at the presentations and viewed slides of their work I was reminded of my own artistic entry to Kansas City.  Coming to Kansas City as an artist in 1971, I too felt a similar sense of isolation and dislocation.  The sad truth is that all artists occupy a peripheral and precarious position in our culture regardless of gender.  The particular problem for women is they are easily more visible targets unless they, like Blacks, make themselves “invisible” through gender stereotype.

Fortunately all three of these artists have emerged with their commitment and ego intact with the knocks and difficulties most artists encounter in the early years.  They seem to create images that come from convictions necessary to sustain them.

It is not easy for anyone to be an artist in this society, especially in the culturally landlocked environment of the Midwest.  We all need the nourishment of recognition and patronage.  Their presentation s suggested a tenacity of purpose whether they stay close to feminist concerns as with Bachmann or swing off into the ecology movement as with Patrician Duncan’s case.

All three artists seem to be faring well given the limitations of the region. Their works reflect mature artistic statements with an assurance that signals some degree of resolution between the woman/artist dilemma.

kristen shuler

KC Artist Lifestyle is FINALLY back this week!

We are excited to get back into the swing of things with Kansas City embroidery artist Kristen Shuler (@heypaul). She caught our eye several months ago with her stunning embroidery work that put a great big smile on our face! Kristen is a self taught artist who let her passion for all things embroidery lead her to the founding of the Eat Drink Stitch (@eatdrinkstitch) monthly embroidery community, happy hours, workshops and crafty events. Beyond this community, Kristen also co-hosts and participates in many MANY other events, pop up shops and embroidery mentor programs along the way.

“Teaching hand embroidery is not only my passion, it is my means of connecting and empowering other women through creativity. With every “pop” of the needle passing through the fabric, I find joy and embrace the process. My love of abstract stitching reflects my tendency to revolt against perfection and uniformity. I openly celebrate the flaws in my work in order to allow my unique style to shine and I encourage my students to follow suit.”

We are looking forward to seeing what a week in the life of Kristen(@heypaul) is all about, but since we just can’t wait, here are a few images of Kristen’s work and past Instagram images…

Shuler_Kristen_Image 2_AL_3_16   Shuler_Kristen_Image 6_AL_3_16   Shuler_Kristen_Image 4_AL_3_16

Be sure to follow Kristen on her KCAC Instagram journey Thursday, March 24th – Tuesday, March 29th!

If you missed any of our previous Artist Lifestyle Artists you can always catch up on the KCAC Instagram (@kcartistscoalition) to see what has been happening or search all social media with the hashtags: #kcartistlifestyle #kcacartistlifestyle