Event Preview: 2018 Plaza Art Fair

by Nina Cherry

The Country Club Plaza is home to some of the finest dining and shopping available in Kansas City.

This weekend, the Women’s Center will be at the Plaza Art Fair along with the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance. We will have button-making, a prize wheel, and a musical instrument demonstration at our booth. Stop by and hang out with us! The annual Plaza Art Fair, held the third weekend after Labor Day, is a three-day celebration of Kansas City’s finest art, food, and culture. A 2017 article about the artists featured at the fair states that over 1,400 artists apply each year to be featured at the Plaza Art Fair,  ensuring that guests are only seeing the best of what Kansas City has to offer.

What: “The Plaza Art Fair encompasses nine city blocks and welcomes a crowd of over 250,000. Featuring 240 artists, the Plaza Art Fair is a top-ranked, national art event with three live music stages and 22 featured restaurant booths. It continues to be a weekend of people simply celebrating art and each other, as well as Kansas City’s unofficial welcome to the fall season.” Read more about the Plaza Art Fair here.

Who: The Women’s Center booth at the 2018 Plaza Art Fair will be co-sponsored by the UMKC Women’s Center and the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance.

The Women’s Center has had a booth at the fair in years past.

When: Friday, 9/21/18, 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.; Saturday, 9/22/18, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.; and Sunday, 9/23/18, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Where: You can find our booth in the Experience ArtsKC section on Broadway between 47th Street and Nichols Road.

Admission: Free!

Parking: All Country Club Plaza parking garages are free and open to the public. For a parking map, go to: https://www.plazaartfair.com/parking-map.

We look forward to seeing you this weekend!

If you are interested in volunteering for this event or future Women’s Center events, email us at umkc-womens-center@umkc.edu or give us a call at 816-235-1638.

On the Lookout for Healing Arts Corners

By Chris Howard-Williams

“The medical profession has come a long way in recognizing the healing benefits of art. My hope is that someday the arts will be considered as significant in everyone’s lives as breathing fresh air, eating clean foods, and performing physical exercise.” -Renée Phillips

Of all the many services and programs the Women’s Center provides, perhaps their Healing Arts programs are some of my favorite so far! Believing that emotional and psychological well-being can be managed through creativity and self-expression, the Healing Arts workshops are offered as tools for “building and maintaining a healthy campus environment.” Whether it’s watching your stress shrink like a shrinky-dink or brushing away the pain with watercolors, these unique programs offer students a creative and unique opportunity to consider their own mental and emotional health.


One of my jobs this academic year is to manage the Women’s Center Healing Arts Corners across campus. These corners can be found in five different locations across campus:

  • Here in the Women’s Center lounge in Haag Hall, room 105
  • The International Student Affairs Office on the ground floor of the Atterbury Student Success Center, room G-06
  • The Writing Studio on the 2nd floor of the Atterbury Student Success Center
  • The Rainbow Lounge in the Student Union, room 325
  • The Student Health and Wellness Office waiting room in the Brookside 51 building, suite 237

I really encourage you to seek out one of these corners and follow along with the self-guided activity that is posted there! You’ll get to choose one of the colorful rocks, handmade by one of the Women’s Center Staff out of Sculpey clay, and take a moment to consider what it is that drives you. Then, using one of the provided Sharpie markers, write a word or phrase that is inspiring or motivating to you personally before taking the rock with you. It is our hope that you are able to view that rock as a “stepping stone” to your goals this semester and beyond, using it to remind you of the hope and the drive that brought you to this place in your life (and at UMKC). Don’t forget to answer the short questionnaire while you’re there as well!

For more information about the Healing Arts programs at the Women’s Center, visit their website or stop by the Women’s Center in Haag Hall room 105 to pick up an event calendar.

A Woman in a Man’s World: Elizabeth Kosko

By Nina Cherry

Kasko is a female percussionist and a student at UMKC.

Elizabeth Kosko began playing drums nearly twenty years ago. Since then, she has attended Emporia State University for her undergraduate degree, University of Southern California for her Masters, and has served as a substitute performer for the LA Philharmonic Orchestra and the Kansas City Symphony, among other ensembles. She is a current DMA student at UMKC’s Conservatory and Dance.

Kosko didn’t notice gender discrimination as a female percussionist throughout junior high, high school, and not even during her undergraduate studies at Emporia State, but when she did she was caught by surprise. She started to encounter discrimination when she began playing professionally. Upon moving to Los Angeles, she quickly realized that the freelancing world was a “boy’s club.”

Auditions for professional orchestras are blind, but pre-professional ensemble auditions are not. These pre-professional ensembles, such as the New World Symphony, are crucial in order to be accepted into professional orchestra auditions later on. Kosko informed me that in the past thirty years,  the New World Symphony has had a total of four female percussionists – and one of them was by default. Even after a group of female percussionists petitioned for blind auditions, they refused.

Most female percussionists focus on mallet percussion, such as xylophone or marimba, with the males traditionally playing snare drum or timpani. Kosko believes that this stigma derives from marching band, with the assumption that a girl isn’t strong enough to carry a snare drum or a bass drum.

Kosko told me that she finds empowerment from her friends’ and colleagues’ success. She adds, “Something that I’ve tried to embrace more recently, which is another aspect of what makes me being a percussionist and a figure in entertainment a little bit different, is that I’m queer, but also visibly queer.” When playing in Children’s Concert Series, she believes it is important for young people to see a queer woman in the percussion section among the men.

There is a long way to go in terms of gender equity in the music industry, especially in terms of percussion, but with more women like Elizabeth Kosko, we can bridge that gap.

Work-Study Students Needed

By Ann Varner

Currently the UMKC Women’s Center has three open positions for work-study students. If you have a work-study award, passion for feminism, enjoy working with others, and working fun events such as “Crafty Feminist Friday,” please apply! Essential duties include, but are not limited to:

Women’s Center staff members serve a student at the annual fall Chill Out event.

  • Identify needs of individual and appropriately assist with questions or concerns at front desk.
  • Politely greet students and guests to provide quality customer service; answer phones.
  • Assess questions; offer solutions or additional resources such as a manager to assist.
  • Demonstrate professionalism in a confidential setting.
  • Implement existing/new tasks, projects and/or ideas with accuracy and enthusiasm.
  • Promote services by serving as an representative through conversations with fellow students.
  • Data entry, mailing and other clerical duties as assigned.
  • Open/Close office responsibilities as needed.
  • Writing at least one blog per week on a relevant women’s issue.
  • Helping to manage the Women’s Center social media pages.

Working at the Women’s Center for the past few years has not only opened my eyes, but also many doors of opportunity. Over the years, I’ve learned to love myself and become confident in my decisions. I have been challenged more than any other job I’ve had, which has helped me to grow into a better employee and person. I’ve had amazing co-workers who have become friends. I’ve been able to participate in events that I am passionate about and became educated on feminism and women’s issues.

If any of this sounds like a place you want to work, please apply at this link.

Directions for applying:

  1. Select “handshake” where you will be directed to complete multiple steps – it is not necessary to complete them if you do not wish to. 
  2. Once you get to the homepage of handshake, at the top of the page will be a link to “work-study positions.” Click on that link, which will then redirect you to log into the UM system.
  3. After you log into that system, you may search through the available jobs. You can directly go to “Women’s Center” under departments and will find the job listing with more details and how to apply.

The Women Behind Walt

By Samantha Anthony

A woman in the Ink and Paint department works on Pinocchio.

The arrival of fall is near, and for me that means finding fun things to do inside when the weather is rainy, snowy, or just too cold for my liking. One of the most popular fall pastimes is watching movies cuddled under a blanket – I’m a child at heart, so Disney’s animated films are a common selection for me on movie nights. Although I’ve been a fan of movies like Sleeping Beauty, The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Lion King, and many more, it wasn’t until just recently that I learned about the multitude of women that pioneered the Ink and Paint department at Walt Disney’s studio in Burbank, California during the company’s earliest years, which would later be referred to as “The Golden Age” of Disney film creation.

Although they suffered from lack of recognition and lower wages during their time at the production company, the women who worked for Disney have received more attention in recent years.

A portrait of Mary Blair, who would go on to serve as Walt Disney’s art supervisor. (1941)

In a Vanity Fair article by Patricia Zohn, she chronicles the lives of the young women who worked in the Ink and Paint department at Walt Disney Animation Studios from 1930 through the end of World War II. “‘I’ll be so thankful when Snow White is released and I can live like a human once again,’” Zohn quotes from a letter penned by a woman who worked 85 hours a week toward the end of production on the film, which was anticipated to be a huge success. Zohn writes, “During Snow White, it was not at all unusual to see the ‘girls’ – as Walt paternalistically referred to them – thin and exhausted, collapsed on the lawn, in the ladies’ lounge, or even under their desks.’” The all-women Ink and Paint department was responsible for the coloration and line work in Snow White, Pinocchio, Dumbo, Bambi, and more animated films. In the weeks leading up to the release of Snow White, some women did not receive their paychecks (“Walt joked that he had to mortgage Minnie and Mickey,” Zohn writes), and still they toiled away meticulously at their work, painting characters and scenes precisely as directed. Snow White would go on to become the highest-grossing American film at the time after its premiere, to which none of the women were invited. Still, the girls were honored to work for Disney, sometimes after attending months of unpaid training with no promise of an offer at the end.

Disney’s Golden Age ended, but women were still a vital part of the creativity and talent required to produce the company’s whimsical films. In the mid-20th century, artist Mary Blair became one of Walt Disney’s most respected illustrators. Blair created concept art for a number of films, including Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, and Peter Pan. Katherine Brooks writes in a Huffington Post article that Blair’s “…bright designs and modernist style reigned supreme at Walt Disney’s studio for nearly 30 years, during which she created iconic illustrations and drawings.” Today, Blair is commonly credited for her work with colors and character development in a number of Disney films, some of which she worked on as art supervisor, an esteemed position for which Walt Disney appointed her himself.

Art by Mary Blair for the film “Alice in Wonderland.”

Today, Disney recognizes its female contributors with pride. Moana, which was released by Walt Disney Animation Studios in 2016, was the first Disney animated feature film to have a woman serve as the head of animation, according to an article by Julie Hinds for the Detroit Free Press. Watching a Disney film is a special, almost therapeutic occasion, but knowing about the women who worked on these movies somehow makes it even better. Don’t you agree?

New Intern at the Women’s Center

By Nina Cherry

Hello! My name is Nina Cherry and I am thrilled to be working at the Women’s Center this semester!

I am a first year music major and my primary instrument is percussion. I chose UMKC for several reasons: the fantastic Conservatory of Music and Dance, the rich music history of Kansas City, along with the city’s and UMKC’s diversity and culture. I am from a tiny town (population 280) about 30 miles outside of Columbia, Missouri. There were only 17 kids in my graduating class! After attending the same small public school for thirteen years, I was ready for a change of scenery.

In addition to working at the Women’s Center, I am a singer-songwriter and perform at venues around Mid-Missouri. I plan to start performing out in Kansas City as well once I get settled in. Performing empowers and energizes me and I am looking forward to growing as both a musician and a person while at UMKC!

The Women’s Center is a great fit for me and I am so excited for the semester. I am especially looking forward to the Plaza Art Fair later this month. I want to be an advocate for other female musicians and artists.  My goal is to contribute to the progress of gender equity on UMKC’s campus, and within the community of Kansas City. Stop by and say hello!

Mrs., Miss, and Ms.: The Evolution of “Ms.”

By Ann Varner

Recently, I realized that while I know the differences between “Mrs.,” “Miss,” and “Ms.,” I didn’t know the significance of how “Ms.” came to be. The literary term for these titles are honorificsAccording to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, “Mrs.” is “a title used before a surname or full name to address or refer to a married woman.” This is something I’m sure everyone knows. Families and friends have made a huge ordeal about the bride becoming a “Mrs.” in every wedding I’ve been in or attended. Additionally, Grammarly.com states that “Miss” is a title of respect for an unmarried woman.

“Ms.” came about in the 1950’s as a title of respect for women that did not disclose a woman’s marital status. It’s only fair, after all, because “Mr.” is the equivalent to “Ms.” as it also does not disclose a man’s marital status. We can thank

Sheila Michaels, the activist who popularized the term “Ms.” for women.

Ms. Sheila Michaels, a feminist who campaigned to popularize the title “Ms.” in the 1960’s as a way for women not to be defined by their relationships with men.

In 1986, “Ms.” became popular and accepted after the New York Times published that it would begin using the term “Ms.” as “an honorific in its news and editorial columns.”

While we as a society have made many advancements on how we view women, please remember that using “Ms.” (unless you’re told otherwise or they have a doctorate) is the best form of respect when addressing a woman in a professional manner.

Event Preview: Crafty Feminist Friday

By Samantha Anthony

Are you beginning the feel the pressure of classes? Are you stressed out about school, or something else going on in your life? Or is it past time for some self-care? On Friday, September 7th, come to the Women’s Center from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m., where we’ll be ending the week with arts and crafts. Bring a friend and enjoy some snacks, too. This event will be co-sponsored by A Window Between Worlds. We can’t wait to see you there!

What: Crafty Feminist Friday – Hang out, make arts and crafts, and enjoy some snacks.

Who: Co-sponsored by the UMKC Women’s Center and A Window Between Worlds

When: Friday, September 7th, 2018 from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Where: UMKC Women’s Center, 5120 Rockhill Road, 105 Haag Hall, Kansas City, MO 64110

Admission: FREE!

Parking is available in the Rockhill Road parking garage across from the Women’s Center.

Please RSVP to umkc-womens-center@umkc.edu or 816-235-1638 by Wednesday, September 5th.

Introducing Myself… Again!

by Ann Varner

Hello! Over the summer you have probably seen my blogs as I worked at the Women’s Center. This summer we were very productive, including re-organizing the entire center and attending lots of student orientations. As the fall semester begins I am re-writing my current biography, as life is always changing. This year I am a senior! While it is very exciting, it is also nerve wracking as I prepare to apply to graduate schools and start my career.

I am going to graduate with my degree in criminal justice and hope to work in the field as an advocate at MOCSA or a domestic violence shelter. My work at the Women’s Center ties in strongly to those fields, which is also why I’m passionate about helping others. I hope to attend graduate school for either legal studies or criminology as I work full time, and then eventually go to law school.

This year I will be in charge of planning our Crafty Feminist Fridays as well as Feminist Film Fridays. Be on the lookout for our events calendar. I am excited to finish off my undergraduate while working at the Women’s Center, as I am always learning!

10 Things I Would Tell my Younger Self

By Ann Varner

I watched a video recently where elderly women give advice to 25-year-old women about their regrets in life. In the video they speak about the pressures of society today and how women are supposed to be “perfect.” After watching this video I started to reflect on my younger self, even if it was only a few years ago. I realized how much I’ve grown and what I wish I could go back and tell myself at 15-21 years old. This is a list of what I would tell myself and many other ladies out there who likely faced the same issues:

  1. Don’t act unintelligent and purposely fail math because you want male attention. I promise you, it’s cool to be smart.
  2. I know that boy broke your heart. I know it hurts. Don’t dwell on it, because you will miss all the good times you have with your friends.
  3. Cherish your friendships. You never know what will happen in the blink of an eye.
  4. Your mom is actually right 99% of the time.
  5. It’s okay to be different from everyone else. You don’t need to be ashamed of your Wal-Mart and thrift shop clothes. In the end, it’s all materialistic. The people who like you for who you are don’t care where you shop.
  6. It’s okay to want a life that others don’t perceive as normal. I know you don’t care about marriage or babies and that seems weird to everyone else. Don’t worry about it, one day you’ll be content with how you feel.
  7. It’s okay to want to live alone. It’s okay to enjoy your solitude.
  8. When someone shows you who they are, believe them.
  9. I know you’re humiliated by having to drive an ’89 Ford Topaz that everyone makes fun of you for. One day, you’re going to work hard enough to buy a car you like. Their opinions don’t matter.
  10. The future is now, stop yearning for what is to come and make it happen. No one besides you can create your life.

I know that 20 years from now I’ll look back on this blog and smile as I will have a new list to create. In all, I wish I had trusted myself and what I felt deep down. Most topics on this list are materialistic or about how I was perceived by others. At 25, I’m content with who I am, what I wear, and how I live. It’s a great feeling to have and I wish it for everyone else. I think that the biggest regret I have, which is similar to the ladies’ in the video, is that I had spent too much time caring about what others thought rather than just living my life. Fortunately, I get to do that now.