Women to Watch 2012: Focus on Fiber and Textiles

By Morgan Elyse

Every two years, the National Museum of Women in the Arts in D.C. hosts an exhibition that increases the visibility of underrepresented, contemporary female artists in the U.S., U.K., and other countries in which the museum has outreach committees. The museum first opened in the spring of 1987 and is the largest museum in the world dedicated exclusively to the recognition of women’s contributions to the arts. The NMWA’s dedication to the education of the community as well as it’s advocating for the equity of women in the arts is truly something to be admired.

So, “what”, you may be asking yourself, “could possibly be cooler than that?!?”

Well, this year, for the first time, UMKC, co-sponsored by the NMWA, the Kansas City Jewish Museum of Contemporary Art, UMKC Libraries, and the Her Art Project, will be participating in an extension of the Women to Watch exhibit featuring the work of 22 innovative, home-grown, Kansas City women; all of whom are extremely talented fiber and textile artists!

Marcus Cain, Executive Director and Curator of the Kansas City Jewish Museum of Contemporary Art in Overland Park, KS was chosen by the NMWA to appoint a Kansas City artist as our regional representative for the national exhibit in Washington D.C. in November. Being of democratic mind, however, Cain decided to put together a committee of leading arts experts in the Kansas City area to decide which woman would best represent our home town instead of making the choice on his own. This committee included Rachel Blackburn Cozad formerly of the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kate Hackman of the Charlotte Street Foundation, Anne Pearce of the Greenlease Gallery and Rockhurst University, Jason Pollen of the Kansas City Art Institute, and the Women’s Center’s very own Arzie Umali.

All together, the committee had nominated 24 artists; the top 5 of which were featured in a Women to Watch extension at the Jewish Museum and all but 1 of which will be featured in our UMKC extension this fall (#24 and #25 are very busy). The UMKC Women to Watch extension will be displaying amazing fabric and textile pieces by artists Tracy Krumm, Marcie Miller Gross, Sonié Joi Ruffin, Debra Smith, Miki Baird, Debbie Barrett-Jones, Jennifer Boe, Nedra Bonds, Sandy Cahill, Kim Eichler-Messmer, Linda Filby-Fisher, Jennie Frederick, Mindy Goodman, Erika Lynne Hanson, Tanya Hartman, Hadley Johnson, Janet Kuemmerlein, Ke-Sook Lee, Eugenia Ortiz, Rachel Rolon, Gerry Trilling, and Susan White.

Tracy Krumm, was justifiably selected as the Women to Watch Kansas City ambassador to show her striking, thought-provoking work in D.C. this year. Krumm states that her work, “involves the investigation and juxtaposition of historically gender-specific techniques, such as crochet and blacksmithing, to question and comment on identity, duality, relationships and beauty”. Featured here is a photo of her piece entitled “Cone (Sleeve”).

Tracy Krumm’s crocheted metal sculpture.

The UMKC Women to Watch exhibit will be on display in the Dean’s Gallery at the Miller Nichols Library beginning on Monday, September 17th and lasting through Friday, November 2nd. The Dean’s Gallery is located on the second floor of the library at 800 East 51st St. in Kansas City, MO. UMKC will also be hosting an Artists’ Reception in the Dean’s Gallery on the evening of Thursday, October 11th from 5:30 to 7:30pm. This will be a great chance to meet and mingle with some of the artists and to view some extraordinary textile and fabric work created by 22 of Kansas City’s most talented women. The reception will be co-sponsored by the Chancellor’s Advisory Board to the Women’s Center, the Friends of the Library, and the Greater Kansas City Area Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts.