Ramona Davis: Women Who Lead in the Arts

By Chris Howard-Williams

On October 24, the UMKC Women’s Center will be hosting an event titled Women Who Lead in the Arts, a panel discussion that will feature local, leading women in arts careers.  Leading up to this event, the Women’s Center blog will highlight each of the women who will be involved in this unique discussion. Today, we focus on Ramona Davis.

“I believe art is hope. This belief is an affirmation for me, because it’s a reminder that no one can own the essence of creativity nor can it be neatly confined to a single interpretation. Art is pure; it’s whatever one needs or wants it to be.” – Ramona E. Davis

For our next panelist, Ramona E. Davis, art has been a lifelong passion.  Since her youth, Davis has loved and studied art. She currently identifies as an avid art collector and an arts advocate in the Kansas City area.  Her professional work experience in the area of sales, marketing, and project management for both private and public sectors has enabled her to work in many diverse arenas, including Gallery Manager at The Central Park Gallery, Constituent Relations Marketing Manager at MidAmerica Arts Alliance, and charter board member of the Kansas City Museum Foundation.  Perhaps because of this unique experience, Davis was uniquely poised to found the KC Black Arts Network.

The KC Black Arts Network exists as an “advocate of local artists of color,” and it supports the local black artist community through services such as its online artist directory of local artists and promotion of artists’ work through social media and advocacy.  According to Davis, the goal with the network is “to cultivate and support experiences between local artists of color and local art enthusiasts.” The Network has also provided a platform for hosting artists talks as well as curating many exhibitions, including Reflecting The Times: Artworks by Harold Smith, Stefan Jones and Jason Piggie at The Box Gallery, September 2016, Colour Portraits: Unconventional Admiration at ArtsKC, February 2017 and Depictions: People, Places and Things for the Black Archives of Kanas City, February 2018.

On a more personal note, Ramona Davis currently lives in a historic home in Kansas City, Missouri, with her husband, IT Architect and musician Eugene Davis.  Her interests and activities include photography, acrylic painting, and color theory. Davis is a member of the African American Artist Collective, located in Kansas City, as well as a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, which has an undergraduate chapter here at UMKC.  Most recently, Davis been selected to join the Friends of Art Council at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art. We are honored to have her as a part of our Women Who Lead in the Arts panel, and look forward to hearing her share her experiences as a leader in the arts!

The Women Who Lead in the Arts panel discussion will take place on October 24 at 1:00-2:30 p.m. in the Miller Nichols Library, Room 325, 800 E. 51st St.  This event is free and open to the public.  For more information or to RSVP, contact the Women’s Center at (816) 235-1638 or visit womens-center@umkc.edu.

Karen Christiansen: Women Who Lead in the Arts

By Chris Howard-Williams

On October 24, the UMKC Women’s Center will be hosting an event titled Women Who Lead in the Arts, a panel discussion that will feature local, leading women in arts careers.  Leading up to this event, the Women’s Center blog will highlight each of the women who will be involved in this unique discussion. Today, we focus on Karen Christiansen.

Without a doubt, one of the shining jewels in Kansas City’s art scene is the prestigious Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.  Located less than a mile from UMKC’s campus, the Nelson-Atkins offers visitors a visual journey through many of the highlights of art history itself.  From Egyptian sculptures and the art of Imperial China to Impressionist paintings and modern art, there’s a little something for everyone, and the Chief Operating Officer of the museum happens to be none other than our next featured panelist, Karen Christiansen.

Since joining the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in February 1999, Christiansen has acted as the Museum’s Chief Operating Officer, where she directs the planning and daily financial and business operation of the Museum’s more than $33 million budget.  In addition, she coordinates museum-wide activities with direct oversight of areas such as visitor experience and amenities, human resource management, event planning, and financial management, among others. In 2013, Christiansen led a team of staff and consultants in developing and adopting the Nelson-Atkins Museum’s new Strategic Plan.  This plan emphasizes audience engagement, community involvement, collaborations and national/international partnerships.

Christiansen’s educational background highlights her unique ability to balance such a challenging role for the Nelson-Atkins.  With a Master’s degree in business administration, a Certificate of Museum Studies, and course work completed for a Master’s degree in art history, all from Arizona State University, Christiansen has been uniquely poised to handle her position as Chief Operating Officer.  In addition to her role at the museum, Christiansen is currently a Board Member of The National Toy & Miniature Museum and a Member of the ArtsKC Executive Director Roundtable. With such training and leadership capabilities, Christiansen truly has much to offer for art in the Kansas City area.  We are honored to have her as part of our panel and look forward to hearing what she has to share with us!

The Women Who Lead in the Arts panel discussion will take place on October 24 at 1:00-2:30 p.m. in the Miller Nichols Library, Room 325, 800 E. 51st St.  This event is free and open to the public.  For more information or to RSVP, contact the Women’s Center at (816) 235-1638 or visit womens-center@umkc.edu.

Xanath Caraza: Women Who Lead in the Arts

By Chris Howard-Williams

On October 24, the UMKC Women’s Center will be hosting an event titled Women Who Lead in the Arts, a panel discussion that will feature local, leading women in arts careers.  Leading up to this event, the Women’s Center blog will highlight each of the women who will be involved in this unique discussion. Today, we focus on Xanath Caraza.

If you were to take a quick glance of Xanath Caraza’s biography on her website, you would notice an introductory sentence that identifies her simply as “a traveler, educator, poet, and short story writer.”  What follows after that humble beginning is a list of publications, recognitions, and awards that are too numerous to list here. Along with lecturing in Foreign Languages and Literatures at UMKC, Caraza is the Literary Curator and organizer of the Annual Day of the Dead Celebration at the Writers Place in Kansas City from 2010 to the present.  In 2018, she received First Place in two categories for the International Latino Book Awards – “Best Book of Poetry in Spanish by One Author” for Lágrima roja and “Best Book of Bilingual Poetry by One Author” for Sin preámbulos / Without Preamble.  She writes for the publications Seattle Escribe, La Bloga, Smithsonian Latino Center and Revista Literaria Monolito.  

The list continues, but it stands in stark contrast to that simple opening introduction.  In fact, it seems to hint at the notion that Caraza is a woman who is comfortable occupying many diverse and sometimes contrasting fields.  Originally from Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico, Caraza has found a way to honor and celebrate her heritage while embracing the world in which she currently resides.  Many of her works are available in both Spanish and English, which seems to act as a bridge between these two worlds. It is as if we have been invited to share in the rich experience of Caraza’s world through the medium of her written word.  We are truly excited to have her as a part of this panel discussion!

In closing, consider the following poem, reprinted here with permission from Caraza, and contemplate the journey that this “traveler, educator, and poet” invites you to take down the Hudson River in New York.

From HUDSON BY XÁNATH CARAZA; translated by Sandra Kingery

34.

Medita en este navegar mecánico.

 

No queda nada,

solo el angustiante ulular

del viento antes

de llegar al agua.  

 

Tiemblan las suaves manos

al escribir, son las dueñas de

los pensamientos salvajes,

de la ira de los oprimidos.

 

Agua del Hudson:

despierta y desenraiza

el dolor: las pesadillas

de niñez que se hacen realidad.

 

34.

Meditate in this mechanical navigation.

 

Nothing remains,

only the agonized keening

of the wind before

it reaches the water.  

Soft hands tremble

as they write, they possess

fierce thoughts,

the fury of the oppressed.

 

Water of the Hudson:

awake and uproot

the pain: the nightmares

of childhood that become reality.

The Women Who Lead in the Arts panel discussion will take place on October 24 at 1:00-2:30 p.m. in the Miller Nichols Library, Room 325, 800 E. 51st St.  This event is free and open to the public.  For more information or to RSVP, contact the Women’s Center at (816) 235-1638 or visit womens-center@umkc.edu.

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?

Summer Intern Works for Equity in the Arts

By Maleigha Michael

Hi, my name is Maleigha Michael. I’m from Parkville, which is within Kansas City and only about half an hour away from UMKC. I have just finished my first actual year at the University of Missouri where I am planning to major in Art History and minor in German.

I chose to apply for this internship because I wanted to gain experience in the Art History field through the Her Art Project, and learn and promote women in the art industry. Through MU, I joined the sorority of Kappa Alpha Theta, the first Greek letter fraternity for women. Our focus is on empowering other women and encouraging them to take leadership positions within their community. Being exposed to so many leading women this past few semesters has lead me to want to influence positive change and progress for women.

I’m very excited to have the opportunity to work in the Women’s Center over this summer of 2018! I hope to create a more positive environment that pushes equality around UMKC, to learn about gender representation in the art world, and to gain skills that I will be able to take with me after this internship is over.

British Singer NAO brings ‘Wonky Funk’ to life

by Zaquoya Rogers

Talk about #blackWOMANmagic! Nao, a black British singer raised in East London, has been all the buzz in her hometown. She started singing in high school, training the choir with their harmonies. Later, she attended the Guildhall School of Music and Drama to study vocal jazz. She then become a backup singer, but opportunity arose one night at a nightclub. A manager discovered her that night and she later released her first song in October 2014.

Since then, many labels have reach out to Nao to get her to sign, but this queen chose to start her own record label called Little Tokyo. Her unique sound blends with off-center pop-funk, electronic and R&B. Many say her “silvery voice glimmers like tinsel but lands like steel.” Nao calls her own sound “wonky-funk,” coining the term. Her debut album, For All We Know, was released in July 2016 and earned a Brit Nomination for Best Female Solo Artist.

IMDB Gets F-Rated

by Thea Voutiritsas

By unbekanntAmazon.com, Inc. (http://www.imdb.com/) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

This year, the Internet Movie Database (IMDB), added the F-Rating classification to their site. An F-Rating is applied to all films which are directed by women and/or written by women, and/or have significant women on screen. If a film has all three, it receives a TRIPLE F-Rating. The F-Rating system was develoepd by Holly Tarquini, executive Director of the Bath Film Festival.  It was inspired by the Bechdel test, which asks whether a work of fiction features at least two women or girls who talk about something other than a male. The differences in the F-Rating scale and the Bechdel test show how far women have come in film and media arts, however, they also show how much farther we have to go. In the top 250 films of 2015, women made up only 3.6% of all directors, 4.4% of all writers, and 10.4% of all producers.

The stories we see on screen need to be told by a broad spectrum of people to represent our diverse culture. Without change, we will train the next generation to only recognise white males as the protagonists and the ones in control of the cameras, scripts and budgets. As well as equality on screen and behind the camera, more female film critics from diverse backgrounds and ethnicities need to be welcomed into the industry so that opinion and feedback is balanced. The gender pay gap is also evident in the industry. By helping women gain recognition we can empower them to negotiate the contracts and salaries they deserve and help close the gap.

-The F-Rated Team

IMDB has attached the F-Rating to more than 22,000 films in its database. 81 films have received the TRIPLE F-Rating so far, including Clueless, Belle, My Brilliant Career, and The Zookeeper’s Wife. Users can also narrow the search by looking for only women-directed titles, or films with a female protagonist. That’s an F-YEAH for Feminism!

An Interview with Jill Foote-Hutton

Jill Foote-Hutton did a short interview about her piece in the 50 Women exhibit. She specialized in creating different types of monsters. If you would like to find out more about them, here is a link to her website. The piece she provided for the 50 Women exhibit is beautiful, and this interview puts it into perspective.

Don’t Miss out on the 50 Women Exhibit!

by Logan Snook and Thea Voutiritsas

There are only 9 days left to see the 50 Women: A Celebration of Women’s Contributions to Ceramics exhibit at the American Jazz Museum ! 50 female artists from around the world contributed to making this the first all-female ceramics exhibit, a landmark feat. Works featured range from sculptural, functional, and installation ceramics. You can check out some footage from the exhibit and interviews with featured artists on our YouTube channel.

Tip Toland. African Child With Albinism.

Tip Toland. African Child With Albinism.

Shalene Valenzuela. Cinched.

Shalene Valenzuela. Cinched.

Beth Lo. What We Pass On.

Beth Lo. What We Pass On.

Virginia Scotchie. Blue Note.

Virginia Scotchie. Blue Note.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The exhibit runs through May 13th at the American Jazz Museum (1616 East 18th Street, Kansas City, Missouri). This is an exhibit you will not want to miss!

Featured Artist: Dandee Pattee

http://artaxis.org/dandee-pattee/

http://artaxis.org/dandee-pattee/

by Logan Snook

Up next in our 50 Women Exhibit interviews is Dandee Pattee. A native of Wyoming, Pattee’s work is heavily inspired by the vast, swelling landscape where she grew up. Not only do the rolling hills and supple mountains of Wyoming inspire Pattee, but her work is largely drawn from the curves and voluptuousness of the female body. Pattee’s porcelain pieces are about body language, movement, and celebrating natural, female forms.

“My work is innately feminine…I am going for curvy, sexy things…that’s what excites me.”

Pattee prefers to create functional pottery, a form she has been drawn to from an early age. By focusing on creating works in the functional form, as opposed to sculptural or installation, Pattee creates a parameter for herself, allowing her work to be more focused.

The 50 Women exhibit marks a first for Pattee – a first participating in an all-female exhibit. Attending the opening of the exhibit, Pattee was surprised to see work by so many artists whose work she did not know. She expressed that the exhibit was “very thoughtfully put together,” showcasing strong, unique works by women that were outside the trend

For more on Pattee’s work, follow her on Facebook!

The 50 Women: A Celebration of women’s Contribution to Ceramics Exhibit is up until May 13th – make sure to stop by and view the work created by these inspiring, and talented women!