Thursday, December 2, 2021
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Tender Shines at UMKC Gallery of Art


The UMKC Gallery of Art started its 2017 exhibitions with “Tender,” a seven-piece display of installations, various textures, furniture and more. While trying to figure out what Tender was at our pitch meeting, I thought UMKC was bringing speed-dating to campus, like “Tinder” the dating app. Upon arrival into the gallery, I realized that Tender was the name of the exhibit. I was blown away at the amount of creativity. After being greeted by the staff, I grabbed a program and started at “Custom Burial,” a trunk that housed a Barbie like toy inside of a bottle set-up to look like it was ready to go six-feet under.

As I continued through the exhibit, I headed towards the food and met Katy McRoberts, the artist of the night. After we stopped laughing from my explanation of the speed-dating mishap, she told me what Tender meant.

“Tender is sensitive,” said McRoberts. “It represents fragility… it’s tender-hearted.”

A lot of the pieces were dainty and soft, so it made total sense.

“Custom Burial”
“Custom Burial”

McRoberts has been passionate about art since childhood and is now an award-winning Kansas City Art Institute graduate who has had exhibits in the H&R Black Artspace and more. She has also done art collaborations with UMKC students.

“When I worked with UMKC students,” said McRoberts. “It was with a senior choreographer, and I made some wearable pieces for his thesis project. He was choreographing a ballet, and we worked together to create ensembles for the dancers.” She has also been an art director for a short film and has created costume pieces for an opera.

My favorite piece of the night was “Assembled Hide/The Fool.” This piece was hung on the wall and consisted of pony hair, pearls, brass note clips and more. It looked like something a King from Game of Thrones would wear.  A few of her pieces are on sale at the exhibit, and they range from $70-$425 dollars.

“I think that if you’re a creative person you have to invest in yourself initially and then figure out how it becomes sustainable,” McRoberts said. “You can’t start by saying what’s going to be sellable… because then there’s no authenticity or soul.”

     Tender will be on showcase until March 2nd. The event is free and is located in the Fine Arts building. For more info visit

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