Women, Art & Pie

By Morgan Elyse

No, not real pie like with apples and cinnamon- have you ever heard anyone, in regards to a complete egotist, say that they deserved to eat a little slice of humble pie? Well, I’m not a complete egotist but I sure tasted a piece of it the other day at the Women to Watch artists reception and, frankly, it tasted pretty damn good.

First of all, every single piece of the art that was on display at the Women to Watch exhibit was magnificent. It was so uplifting to see the many wonderful works of women’s art and their respective artists in one place. I was also fortunate enough to have a charming little conversation with Mr. Marcus Cain (http://marcuscain.com/home.html), Executive Director/Curator of the Kansas City Jewish Museum of Contemporary Art in Overland Park and Co-Curator of the Women to Watch Exhibit. He’s doing wonderful things, people.

I had the opportunity of meeting and interviewing some very fascinating and distinguished people at the highly anticipated soiree on Thursday evening. Around one hundred people filled the Dean’s Gallery at the Miller Nichols library to celebrate the work of 25 of the country’s most talented fiber and textile artists. Attendance included the Dean, herself, Bonnie Postlethwaite and Mrs. Jeannette Nichols, the 2009 recipient of the Kansas Citian of the Year Award and wife of the late Mr. Miller Nichols – after whom the UMKC library was named.

With the help of my good friend and fellow film student/fem-activist, Brit Melugin, I filmed a little documentary vignette in which we asked people what they thought about the exhibit and how they felt about gender in-equality in the arts. We received mixed answers. Some people had never thought about the issue, some were very adamant about the need to raise awareness about feminine equity, some held ground in that gender discrimination was a thing of the past, and some spoke out about other types of discrimination such as age and discrimination against artists as a whole.

It’s always quite an eye-opening experience to have the chance to hear the varied opinions of others on a topic. I have to say that I could to relate to everyone’s opinion or have been able to at some point. Before I started working at the Women’s Center I was aware of some women’s issues but not as many and I never really thought about them.  Now, I learn something new every day and my urge to speak out about women’s issues grows just as my feelings toward other types of discrimination our society faces today.

This was a great event and an even better experience. I’m looking forward to the next time I get to do something like this  (and film it!) I’m editing the video now so be on the lookout for a Women to Watch Reception video. It should be posted to the Women’s Center’s Youtube, Facebook, and Twitter within the next couple of weeks. Thanks for reading and, as always…

<3. Every. Body.


Women:  0:3:14
Men:        0:2:46

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.

Call for Artists — Plaza Art Fair Opportunity with UMKC Her Art Project

Calling all Kansas City area female artists!  The UMKC Women’s Center, Conservatory of Music and Dance – Community Music and Dance Academy, and the Toy and Miniature Museum are teaming up to host the Her Art Project booth at the upcoming Plaza Art Fair, Sept. 21 – 23, on the Country Club Plaza. We are looking for four KC area artists (visual artists, musicians, dancers, poets, etc…) to be featured artists at different times during the Art Fair. Featured artists will not be able to sell any artwork; however, you will be able to display samples of your work and distribute promotional materials to thousands of art fair visitors. You will also have the opportunity to give a brief presentation about your art and to facilitate a family-friendly, hands-on activity.

To be considered for one of the Featured Artist positions, please submit proposals to Arzie Umali at the UMKC Women’s Center, by 5:00pm on Wednesday, Aug. 15. 

For more information, please contact Arzie Umali at 816-235-5577 or umalia@umkc.edu .

The Her Art Project booth at the Plaza Art Fair is also made possible through the support of the Arts Council of Metropolitan Kansas City and the Experience ArtsKC Program.

Concert Features Women Composers at UMKC

By Arzie Umali
Next week the Women’s Center’s Her Art Project will be co-sponsoring a concert featuring some very talented women composers at UMKC. In collaboration with the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance, the UMKC Women Composers concert will be part of the Musica Aestas  concert series, June 16 – 22. Now in its third year, this concert series features innovative programming by guest performers, as well as faculty from the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance. The Women Composers concert will be Wednesday, June 20 at 7:30 p.m. at White Recital Hall in the UMKC Performing Arts Center, 4949 Cherry St. Featured composers and performers will be:

Mara Gibson

Mara Gibson: E: Tip for cello solo, played by Sascha Groschang featuring video collaboration by Caitlin Horsmon
Tatev Amiryan: piano solo work, played by Tatev Amiryan
Asha Srinivasan: Dviraag for flute and cello, played by Grace Lai and Sascha Groschang
Asha Srinivasan: Alone, Dancing for flute solo, played by Grace Lai
Chen Yi: Duo Ye for piano solo, played by Tatev Amiryan
Chen Yi: Romance and Dance for violin and piano, played by Amy Hu and Tatev Amiryan
Chen Yi

The concert is free and open to the public. For more information, please visit the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance Community Music and Dance Academy website. 

The Her Art Project is a program of the UMKC Women’s Center that strives to support the achievements of local women artists of all disciplines and to advance the equity of all women in the arts in Kansas City. For more information, please visit the Her Art Project website.

Art, Hors d’œuvres, and Community

By Sarah Jensen

This third year of partnering with the Her Art Project to do a group art exhibit was a fantastic success! Last Thursday, March 1st, the turnout from the Kansas City and UMKC communities to celebrate the artistic talent on display at the “Vanguards and Visionaries” Opening Reception at the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center surpassed expectations. It was also a night honoring the past leadership of the UMKC Women’s Center. Dean Peter Witte gave a warm welcome on behalf of UMKC and introduced Jolie Justice.  Special guest Jolie Justice, of the Missouri State Senate, spoke in recognition of the Women’s Center’s 40 years, hoping to celebrate many more years to come. Largely it was a wonderful evening. We look forward to up and coming events at the Women’s Center, including but not limited to the 40th Anniversary Gala, click here for more details! When asked about the general reaction to the reception, Women’s Center Assistant Director Arzie Umali replied: “I think it was positive; but it always gets a positive response”. She also shared her own thoughts on this collaborative event; “This was a great reception. Many of the artists are quite established, so it was obvious that their patrons were there that night. It’s always good to have new audiences attend our events. I liked having the exhibit parallel the 40th anniversary celebration of the Women’s Center, because I don’t think this type of recognition for women in the arts in Kansas City has ever been done before. Everyone seemed to be genuinely enjoying themselves in addition to learning something about the Women’s Center, our forty year history, and what we are doing with the Her Art Project to support women in the arts”.

 The UMKC Women’s Center would like to give a hearty thanks to the sponsors who made this event possible! Annedore’s Fine Chocolates, Boulevard Brewing Co., Hoop Dog Studio, Leedy-Voulkos Art Center, Kenny Johnson Photography, M & M Graphics, Moxie Catering, Office Port KC, Print Time The Roasterie, A Store Named Stuff, UMKC, UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance, and World’s Window

Vanguards and Visionaries

By Sarah L. Jensen

We are only a few weeks away from the  Women’s Center Vanguards and Visionaries Reception! Join us to honor the past leadership of the UMKC Women’s Center. You can meet former directors, staff, and members of the Chancellor’s Advisory Board to the Women’s Center in addition to seeing the new exhibit: Vanguards and Visionaries. The exhibit features local women artists who helped shape visual arts of Kansas City these past forty years. It will be a great night of art, refreshments and bumping elbows with some of the amazing women of Kansas City. We hope to see you there!

 When: Thursday, March 1, 2012
Where: Leedy-Voulkos Arts Center, 2012 Baltimore, KCMO
What Time: 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
RSVP online: http://umkcwc40.eventbrite.com/

For further information or with questions contact the Women’s Center at 816.235.1638 or umkc-womens-center@umkc.edu

Join us to celebrate 40 years of telling our stories with the UMKC Women’s Center!

Image credit: Webster’s Beaker, Philomene Bennet, 2008

Remembering 2011 and Looking Forward to 2012

By Maritza Gordillo

It was not too long ago when I said I was ready to come back and work at the Women’s Center for the 2011 Fall semester. Time went by so quickly due to the fact that we had approximately 14 events this semester, including some of our big events like Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, Women’s Equity Quilt Dedication, and Starr Symposium in which I had the privilege of meeting Dolores Huerta whom I’ve always wanted to meet. The events were really fun because I got to learn a lot more and meet new people. This semester the Women’s Center was filled with new staff members whom I enjoyed working with and hope to see when we come back from winter break. I am truly excited and look forward to coming back in the spring to plan events such as the Vagina Monologues, Stalking Awareness Month, and our 40th Anniversary Gala. I hope to see everyone soon at our spring semester events!  Happy Holidays everyone and congrats to the 2011 Fall Graduates!

A Year of Amazing Events!

By Patsy Campos

The UMKC Women’s Center has hosted a variety of events where we have reached many new and returning audiences throughout the Fall 2010-Spring 2011 term. Our events make an important contribution to the campus and public community by bringing awareness to the importance and advancement of women’s equity. This year our programs included networking events, textile art workshops, special performances and rallies and marches.

Some of our biggest annual events are:

Walk a Mile in Her Shoes

The Vagina Monologues

“Rock Who You Are” Fashion Show

Take Back the Night

Her Art Project

The month of May marks the end of one year for the Women’s Center’s dedicated student staff, but it certainly is not the end of the Women’s Center! Please stop by throughout the summer and next fall to learn more about our upcoming programming. We want to thank all of you for supporting the Women’s Center and giving us the opportunity to create and host successful events and programs. Thank you to our blog readers and for communicating with us through Twitter and Facebook. The Women’s Center wishes all of you a fantastic summer!

Who Does She Think She Is?

"Following Chicken George," by Nedra Bonds

By Arzie Umali

Last night about 150 people gathered at the Event Space at JavaPort in the Kansas City Crossroads Arts District for a private opening of the group art exhibit Who Does She Think She Is?  Artists, patrons, supporters and friends of the UMKC Women’s Center enjoyed live music by local musician Elaine McMillian, spoken word performances by Cheri Woods and “MissConception” and dance performances by the group Assemblé.  They also got a sneak preview of the exhibit that officially opens tonight for First Fridays and features artwork by 26 local female artists.

The exhibit is part of the UMKC Women’s Center’s Her Art Project, a series of programs that strive to bring equity to women who work in all disciplines of artistic expression. By asking the question Who Does She Think She Is? the art exhibit hopes to recognize women for their artistic achievements and to  raise awareness to the unique challenges that women face as they try to meet the demands of family, careers, and artistic fulfillment.  Other Her Art Project events taking place in the month of April include a panel discussion about balancing work and life with creative careers at the KC Public Library on April 12 and an Artist Salon addressing the state of women in the arts in Kansas City on April 27.  More information about these programs and the Her Art Project can be found on the Her Art Project Website

Please support Kansas City’s women artists by stopping by the First Friday opening tonight at the Event Space at JavaPort, 208 W. 19th St. from 6 – 9 pm. If you can’t make it tonight, the exhibit will be up through May 13 with another First Friday opening on May 6.

Women Are Great and Wise Artists, Too

By Arzie Umali

Image from Flickr.com

Happy New Year!  We are almost one full week into 2011 and many people by now have firmly secured their resolutions and goals for the New Year. In fact, some may have already thrown in the towel and realized they had set their sights too high. Whatever we do at this time of year, whether it is strategically listing a set of goals complete with deadlines and measureable outcomes, or just continuing with our current Modus Operandi, many of us do take this time at the start of a brand new year to do some reflection and evaluation; and, most often, we do this with our best intentions at heart.

So, I’m wondering what the intensions were of a recent Wall Street Journal article that listed the “Cultural Resolutions” of some of whom they claimed to be the top writers, artists, and musicians of today.  The article included a sampling of artists from around the world sharing their hopes and goals for the New Year. What first appears to be a rather arbitrary selection of individuals (from Oprah to former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash) to me, also appears to be an extremely sexist list of who the WSJ considers to be the wisest of the cultural icons of today. In the print version of the article, a full-page layout for the article on the cover of the “Friday Journal” section lists quotes from 10 creative individuals – only one, fashion designer, Nanette Lepore, is female. The article covers two more full pages with resolutions and goals of various artists. 37 people are included in total, of which only 9 are women. The on-line version of the article is slightly different and includes a large image of architect, Richard Meier, whose goal is to design more global works. If Meier’s image at the top of this article is any indication of how the WSJ regards the greatness of artists, then they have shown their readers that great art and wisdom comes from men. The rest of the article on-line lists 55 other artists in various disciplines, of which only 11 are women.

The problem with this article, aside from its haphazard mix of artists, is that the message it sends to readers is that men still outnumber women in the arts; therefore, men are more important and are still better at it. Articles like this that quote the wisdom of individuals selected by reputable media sources, assign values that then inform its audiences’ interpretation and perspective on the arts as well. If the WSJ says that these are the top artists, then they must be. And because men dominate this list, then they just must be better. This is not true. And I am disappointed in the WSJ for not being more responsible and doing their due diligence to provide a more gender balanced article.

Women have had a long history of being devalued and excluded from the arts. Shakespeare’s female roles were once performed by men, many art academies in Europe did not allow women, and many symphonies and orchestras have been hostile to female musicians.  Women historically, have had to struggle to be seen, heard, and recognized as legitimate artists. The good news is that, in recent decades, the number of women working in the arts has increased and in many fields women have reached equity in numbers, if not surpassed their male counterparts. Reports from the National Endowment for the Arts confirm this. However, how we as a society value the art produced by these women is still based on the masculine definitions of art established in the past. This becomes a challenge for women emerging onto the arts scene who have their own style and aesthetics, that are different from men, but just as valuable. The problem here is that, most of the time, we act on the impulse that anything different from what we have been conditioned to understand as the best, then is not the best, and we, thus, reject it.

It is time that society release the definition of great art, great music, and great performances from its sexist, homogeneity and recognize the value and richness that adding some gender diversity to these definitions can bring. The media, including the WSJ, then has a responsibility to stop perpetuate the myth of male domination in the arts and to help raise the awareness of its audience to the gender diversity that actually exists in the arts. Brilliant, creative, and innovative women are out there in the art world in numbers and greatness equal to men, but if the media doesn’t let you know who they are, then who will?

The Her Art Project at the UMKC Women’s Center is addressing this problem head on, by collaborating across campus and throughout the Kansas City area with other arts organizations to create programs and services that raise awareness to the contributions of women in the arts and to address the challenges that women working in the arts still face. This spring several events including workshops, lectures and exhibits are planned to support women in the arts in Kansas City.  Visit the Her Art Project website for more information.