Healing Arts: Reclaiming Denim

by Logan Snook

As the semester wraps up, join us on Wednesday, April 27 for some art making to raise awareness for Sexual Assault Awareness Month on Denim Day USA.

For 17 years, the Denim Day campaign has worked to educate others in hopes to end destructive attitudes towards sexual assault. Inspired by a true event, Denim Day launched following the sexual assault of an 18-year old in Italy in 1992.

The young woman’s married 45-year old driving instructor took her to an isolated road, pulled her out of the car, wrestled one leg out of her jeans, and forcefully raped by her. With the help of her parents, she pressed charges against her attacker, who was convicted of rape and sentenced to jail. The assailant appealed the sentence, and was released on the argument, “because the victim wore very, very tight jeans, she had to help him remove them, and by removing the jeans it was no longer rape but consensual sex.”Bloch_Reclaiming-Denim

Women in the Italian parliament were outraged, and protested the verdict by wearing jeans to work. The news made its way to the California Senate and Assembly, who joined in solidarity. It has since become an annual event held on a Wednesday during Sexual Awareness Month in April.

We encourage everyone to wear jeans on this day. From 11:00am – 1:00pm in the UMKC Quad, the Violence Prevention Program, along with the UMKC Women’s Center, invite you to decorate donated jeans with art to show support for survivors of sexual assault. A visual display will be up from 9:00am – 4:00pm in the Quad.

The Violence Prevention Program is hosting a month-long denim drive – donations can be brought to the Denim Day box in 108 Haag Hall.

Featured Artist: Beth Lo

by Matiara Huff

In honor of the 50 Women Exhibit, we have conducted an interview with Beth Lo, one of the 50 very talented artist involved in this exhibit.

Beth Lo is a ceramic artist based in Missoula, Montana. Much of bethloLo’s ceramic and mixed media artwork revolves around issues of family and her Asian ethnicity, culture and language. Lo uses calligraphy and references origami, mahjong and traditional Chinese pottery and figurines. Lo was invited to participate by Anthony Merino who was working with Alex Kraft, a former student:

It is always an honor to participate in an exhibition organized by the two of them, and it is an honor to be chosen as one of 50 Women who have made a contribution to the field of ceramics. The NCECA at Kansas City this year is a milestone event, and I’m happy to be represented in this way. I suspect attendance will be high.

The 50 Women Exhibit is the first large-scale exhibition of women’s contributions to ceramics, and aims to showcase the unprecedented amount of highly skilled women in ceramic arts. As a participant, Lo sees this as more than an opportunity for exposure, and and even sales. As a female artist, she believes women have much to add to ceramic arts:

I think women have played a major role in the development of ceramics in the contemporary art movement since about the 1950’s. There are an increasing number of professionals in teaching positions and in private studio situations, residency programs and art centers. I believe women have a unique viewpoint and maybe even a unique aesthetic to add to the “conversation” about ceramic art. Feminism in both the social and artistic arenas has been an important factor in the growth of women’s participation in the field.

View more on Beth Lo’s work on her website or wikipedia page. If you would like more information on the exhibit or the American Jazz Museum a link is provided here.

Featured Artist: Tip Toland

by Matiara Huff

In honor of the 50 Women Exhibit, we have conducted an interview with Tip Toland, one of the 50 very talented ceramicists involved in this exhibit.


African Child with Albinism

Tip Toland earned her BFA in Ceramics at the University of Colorado. She later earned an MFA in Ceramics from Montana State University. Her sculptures are hyper realistic and often larger than life. Her striking work and unique talent were showcased in the 50 Women Exhibit.

It’s a great honor to be included. I think many more could have been included though I don’t actually hope to accomplish anything from being included except to show people my work.

As a female ceramicist, she brings a unique experience and point of view to the table.

My experience as a woman in the field has been multi-faceted. I am very grateful to have had exposure and been asked to show my work. There are still so many really deserving women whose work is so good whose work need to be seen. I hope perhaps this show can promote that to happen.

If you would like more information on the exhibit or the American Jazz Museum a link is provided here. You can also view more of Tip Toland’s work here.

Featured Artist: Kara Walker

by Danielle Lyons

Kara Walker
taps into raw unfiltered emotion in her body of work. Hers is work that demands to be felt not just seen. She uses paper silhouettes as a means to weigh in on issues of racism, violence, racial identity, sexuality and slavery. The unapologetic nature of her artwork is what makes it a great success.

Kara Walker was born in Stockton, California, on November 26, 1969. She was raised by a father who was a painter. By the age of three, she knew without a shadow of a doubt that she was meant to be an artist. Kara Walker’s mother tells the New Yorker “You know, as a child Kara drew first from paintings and photographs. When I told her it was good, she’d say, ‘Mom, anyone can do that.’ And I said, ‘No, they can’t.” As she grew she continued to explore art styles and techniques. In an interview with New York’s Museum of Modern Art she stated, “I guess there was a little bit of a slight rebellion, maybe a little bit of a renegade desire that made me realize at some point in my adolescence that I really liked pictures that told stories of things—genre paintings, historical paintings—the sort of derivatives we get in contemporary society.” According to Biography she earned a BFA from the Atlanta College of Art in 1991, as well as a MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1994.

She uses silhouettes to illustrate scenes that cover the whole room. These one dimension scenes tell stories of great depth. Her work is absolutely tied to African American History. Often these scenes tell stories of racism, African American identity, violence, slavery, sexuality and strife. She often uses African Illustration and the usage of African folklore. Often her characters are often in pre-civil war era clothing. She often uses African Illustration and the usage of African folklore according to Artsy. These powerful works of art are cut by hand out of paper. Such powerful works of art created out of such delicate materials.


She has been featured in Art21 videos, The New York Times, The New Yorker and TIME as one of TIME’s top 100. TIME’s Magazine goes on to state, “”[Walker] raucously engages both the broad sweep of the big picture and the eloquence of the telling detail. She plays with stereotypes, turning them upside down, spread-eagle and inside out. She revels in cruelty and laughter. Platitudes sicken her. She is brave. Her silhouettes throw themselves against the wall and don’t blink.” It is this strong voice of hers that has no doubt attributed to her success. Her exhibits today are highly sought after. According to her personal website, she has been in 43 solo exhibitions including The Guggenheim. She has also been in 40 group exhibitions. The raw honest nature of her work tends to spark quite a controversy when she is being shown. This was the case at Newark Library in New Jersey when parts of her work were covered. Her work depicted a white male forcing an African American woman’s face to his genitals. Eventually the over was taken off to fully display her work.

Currently Kara Walker is still working on art in New York City where she resides. She also instructs visual arts in the MFA program at Columbia University.

Healing Arts Workshop: Journey Charms

by Logan Snook

Ah…spring break. An entire week with nothing to do but relax and recharge. But that first week back can be rough.

Let us help you refocus on Friday, April 8 and Wednesday, April 13 for Healing Arts Workshop: Journey Charms at the Miller Nichols Learning Center Lobby from 11:00am – 1:00pm. Make some journey charms using shrink art to express your dreams and aspirations.Scala_Journey-Charms

A Sneak Peek at the 50 Women Exhibit

by Logan Snook

The 50 Women: A Celebration of Women’s Contribution to Ceramics exhibit opened March 16th, and the world-class works featured in the exhibit are thought provoking and incredibly varied.

Just how varied? Take a look at the works presented by ceramic artists Shalene Valenzuela and Virginia Scotchie. Both artists presented ceramic works that are dramatically different esthetically, stylistically, and symbolically.


S.Valenzuela - Beware of Shap EdgesS.Valenzuela - cinchedShalene Valenzuela

My exploration of issues focusing on women is important to me for many reasons. Personally, this study resonates with a particular history of my changing perception of me and my role in this lifetime. However, my investigations speak to a greater issue of how women in general perceive themselves and are seen in society, historically and today. In examining the larger picture, I see my exploration of these issues addressing self perception and expectations reaching beyond just purely feminist concerns. It’s a question of how we all strive to attain impossible ideals based on what others define we should be.

Explore Shalene’s website for more on her as an artist and her art.



Virginia Scotchie

 vscotchie042015_18Exploration in the studio is and on-going visual investigation of man-made and natural objects. Usually these consist of small things; ordinary in many ways, but possessing and odd quirkiness that pulls me to them. In some cases I do not know the objects particular purpose, function or where it may have originated. I feel this lack of knowledge allows me to see the object in a clearer light…I do not wish for this work to be named or labeled, rather, it is my intention that through the borrowing and reformation of objects the work might trigger one to look closer and find beauty and intrigue in the humble, ordinary and familiar objects that surround us.

Explore Virginia’s website for more on her as an artist and her art.


The 50 Women: A Celebration of Women’s Contribution to Ceramics exhibit is open to the public through May 13th at the Changing Art Gallery at the American Jazz Museum.

Come Celebrate 50 Women and their Stunning Ceramics

By Danielle Lyons

This event, spo50Years_logo.jpgnsored by the University of Missouri Kansas City Women’s Center and the American Jazz Museum showcases 50 diverse women artist from around the world and the contributions they are making to the ceramic arts. Special thanks goes out to the curators, Alex Kraft and Anthony Merino; two talented artist themselves. As well as Arzie Umali, assistant director of the UMKC Women’s Center, for organizing the event. The 50 Women: A Celebration of Women’s Contribution to Ceramics. The exhibit will be displayed through March 16th through May 13th. The artists on showcase are an array of diverse and hugely talented artists.

Come out and experience the beauty and art that these powerful women have created!

Words with a Curator: Alex Kraft

As the Makers Curate/Curators Make and 50 Women: A Celebration of Women’s Contribution to Ceramics exhibits rapidly approach, we spoke with one of the curators, Alex Kraft.


Kraft is a professional working ceramic artist herself, as well as an educator. Her vision for the 50 Women Exhibit first appeared when she and another curator, Anthony Merino, realized that neither of them could name an exhibition that highlighted women in ceramics:

Tony and I were chatting at the 2013 NCECA and could not recall a previous exhibition that dealt specifically with women’s contribution to ceramics. We each researched further and were still unable to find any exhibition that showcased the breadth of women’s work in clay. We made it our mission to fill this gap and 50 Women: A Celebration of Women’s Contribution to Ceramics was born. The podcast we recorded with Ben Carter of Red Clay Rambler may be of interest to you and readers.

Kraft calls the contributions women have made to ceramics, “beyond calculation.” The 50 Women exhibit will recogniez a cross section of women working in clay today, presenting the art of fifty contemporary female artists. Their work falls both inside and outside of contemporary practice and includes sculpture, pottery, tile, and installation. As Kraft explained:

“The diverse group of artists selected has a varied range of experience, training, and recognition within the field of ceramics. In order to showcase the widest range of possibility, we have intentionally chosen artists working in a broad spectrum of the ceramic material with varying formal and content driven concerns.”

The 50 Women Exhibit will be a landmark exhibition at the 50th anniversary of the NCECA conference. It is the first large-scale exhibition of women’s contributions to ceramics, and aims to showcase the unprecedented amount of highly skilled women in ceramic arts. “Public recognition of ceramic arts is increasing. Ceramic arts are BLOOMING,” said Kraft. “This show is to document the past, to celebrate the present, and to look forward to an exciting expanding future.”

The exhibition will take place at the American Jazz Museum from March 16 – May 13. Gallery hours vary.

Words With a Curator: Anthony Merino

by Logan Snook

A ground-breaking exhibition is about to go up in Kansas City, and we get to be a part of it.

Starting March 16th, 50 female artists will come together to showcase their work in ceramics in honor of the National Council of Educators for the Ceramic Arts 50th annual conference. This exhibit is 50 Women: A Celebration of Women’s Contribution to Ceramics.

What is so grounAnthony D Merinod-breaking about this exhibit? This will be the first large-scale exhibition in the 49 years of NCECA conferences that features only works of female artists. Anthony Merino, co-curator of the exhibit, along with co-curator Alexandra Kraft, decided this was the year to break this streak.

Merino was kind enough to speak with us about this exhibit, which will take place at the American Jazz Museum from March 16 – May 13. Merino is one of the foremost Ceramic Art critics in the US, has curated 8 exhibits, and has published over 100 articles on ceramics.

“The theme of the exhibition is to be egalitarian as possible,” Merino stated. Merino and Kraft, along with collaborators Arzie Umali and Melanie Shaw, have seen incredible support from the art community on this project, from donations, to nearly 7,000 Facebook likes. This support has been a huge validation of the project, including support from the conservative market, which argues that the market is gender neutral. Even if the curators had not there not received much support from the community or market for an exhibit showcasing ceramics from female artists around the world, Merino said:

“[but] even if there was no need. Even if we go to a magical place of complete gender equity, I would still defend the exhibition.”

On top of 50 Women, Merino is excited to be a part of a second exhibit at NCECA conference – Makers Curate/Curators Make. Merino is one of the six involved in artistic production whose art will be on display, including the curators of the 50 Women exhibit. This exhibit highlights the challenges and creative parallels between curating and artistic production, and will be “one of the few multi-discipline exhibitions during the conference.” The reception for will take place on Friday, March 18th from 3:00 – 5:00pm at the UMKC Gallery of Art.

Art on the Rise

Curators-ExhibitKansas City is filled with such vibrancy and beauty. It is notorious for its art scene. This March, The Women’s Center has events planned to shed light on some talented artists. We will be hosting events such as The 50 Women Exhibit, which is a groundbreaking art exhibit featuring the works of 50 diverse women artist from around the world and the contributions they are making to the ceramic arts. Makers Curate/Curators Make Exhibit, highlights the challenges and the creative parallels between curating and artistic production, and features work from those curating the 50 Women Exhibit. Six distinguished people in all fields of artistic production came together with a shared concept: to demonstrate that whether making or curating, their work is visionary. The Artist Salon will be a discussion of the status of women in the art world. While, Roos in the City will be a guided tour of the art exibit, 50 Women: A Celebration of Women’s Contributions to Ceramics in the Changing Gallery. 3-19-16 Roos in the City-01The admission, transportation and lunch will be included.

When you think of great masters in art, you most likely have a male artist that comes to mind. It is of the utmost importance to elevate these fantastic female artist into the public eye; to display art that demands to be seen, and to recognize, celebrate, and promote awareness of the multicultural realities of women’s lives – particularly across race, sexual orientation, gender expression and identity, class, age, and ability. This is exactly what we aim to do through these events, and through the Women’s Center’s Her Art Project. The Her Art Project strives to support the achievements of female artists of all disciplines. Focusing on advocacy, education, and support, the Her Art Project takes action to ensure that women are included, recognized, and celebrated for their artistic contributions. 50-Women-exhibit-SCALAArtist-Salon-SCALA