Engaging Students Through Healing Arts at UMKC

Image Credit: A Window Between Worlds, https://awbw.org/engaging-students-at-umkc/

By: Arzie Umali

The following blog was written by the director of the Women’s Center, Arzie Umali, and was originally posted on the A Window Between Worlds blog at awbw.org/blog/umkc. Arzie is a certified healing arts facilitator and has been offering workshops at UMKC since 2013.

The Women’s Center at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) has had the honor of hosting A Window Between Worlds healing arts workshops since 2013. As an artist and survivor of trauma, I knew firsthand the healing power of art; now, for almost 10 years, I have been sharing that knowledge and empowering our students to use art to heal not just from trauma, but also navigate through the daily stressors of college life.

Through our art program, we are giving students the tools they need for self-preservation so they can find success not just in college, but in life.

Bringing an AWBW program to the Women’s Center was a perfect fit. It was African American feminist writer, Audre Lorde, who said, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” Our students are often overwhelmed and juggling multiple responsibilities, never having enough time for themselves. Being a college student today is hard, and many of our students we support are not just college students. They are also care-givers, and parents, and self-supporting individuals with jobs and families. They are also dealing with different traumas and stressors like debt, illness, loneliness, family violence, and/or a global pandemic. For many of our students, college is also the first time they have felt safe to come to terms with their own identity. For most students, college comes first and everything else comes last – especially themselves. I often find myself telling students that self-care is just as important as showing up for class, studying hard, and acing their finals. And that’s where our AWBW program comes in.

From the first time our students come to campus during summer orientation, we engage them with healing arts. During orientation, we offer students the opportunity to create Stepping Stones. This art activity allows them to ground themselves as college students and see their journey as a series of steps leading them towards graduation. This activity guides them in keeping focused on their end goal, and if they should stumble along the way, their Stepping Stone is there to remind them to keep taking steps forward.

Throughout the academic year, students can engage with our AWBW program through multiple avenues. Whether they need support dealing with trauma, managing their anxiety, coping with stress, or just a timeout, our healing arts workshops are available to them all year round. During Welcome Week, we offer Journey Charms workshops using shrink art where students can visualize college as one of life’s journeys that may be full of good and bad surprises. We also offer Touchstones workshops where students create art that ties them to the larger UMKC community and reminds them that we are there for them, no matter what. Finally, at the end of each semester, we host Shrink Your Stress. This signature program takes place during our campus Stress Less Fest and gives our students a window of time during finals week to step away from their studies to do some self-care and stress relief by creating fun and meaningful shrink art.

Image Credit: A Window Between Worlds, https://awbw.org/engaging-students-at-umkc/

Our most successful and fastest growing art workshops are our Healing Arts Corners. These self-managed healing arts stations are set up in various locations across campus to reach as many different populations as possible. In 2015 we started these workshops with just four locations and this past semester we were in twelve spaces on campus including the Women’s Center, International Student Affairs, the LGBTQIA Rainbow Lounge, the MindBody Connection (a collaborative space of our Counseling Center and Student Health and Wellness), the At Ease Zone in Student Veterans’ Services, the Student Advising Office, the Writing Studio, the Health Sciences Library, the Village in Multicultural Student Affairs, and our three residence halls. These stations provide students an outlet and resource for doing self-care on their time and on their terms. Students learn quickly where the stations are, and they return time and again when they need a little art to get them through the day.

Since 2013, our AWBW program has engaged students across campus, from classrooms in Arts and Sciences, to lounges in our medical school, to the sidelines of our basketball court. Our program has grown from serving 245 participants through 17 workshops during our first year, to serving 1800 participants at 67 workshops during the 2018-2019 academic year. With the COVID-19 pandemic came an even greater need for our workshops. We pivoted several times in order to continue offering art to students in the safest way possible.

The AWBW program at the Women’s Center is vital to the overall health of our campus. I am confident that through our art program, we are giving students the tools they need for self-preservation so they can find success not just in college, but in life.

Arzie Umali, MPA
Windows Facilitator
University of Missouri-Kansas City

Artist Salon Spotlight: Meet Stasi Bobo-Ligon!

By: Emma Stuart

This is the start of a segment of blogs highlighting local artists that will be involved in the Artist’s Salon, sponsored by the Women’s Center at the InterUrban ArtHouse on April 1, 6-7 p.m. This posting is about local artist Stasi Bobo-Ligon. Staci is a local to Kansas City and studied at UMKC before moving to Chicago. In Chicago she attended the Art Institute of Chicago where she developed her art as a contemporary artist. While studying there she received highly sought after, Art House Studio Gallery’s Artist-in-Residence position. While maintaining her residency her art practice thrived and allowed her to create an expansive portfolio. She is currently showing work at the InterUrban ArtHouse. To get to know our featured speakers we asked them some questions about themselves and their work.

Q: What is your preferred medium of creativity?

“My preferred medium of creativity is mixed media. I like to mix painting, with collage and assemblage work.”

Q: What is your interest in participating in the Artist’s Salon?

“I am always interested in exchanging information, feedback and ideas about what inspires and motivates creatives. I’m especially excited about this Artist Salon because I have the opportunity to talk with a diverse group of women about what motivated and inspired us to create for this show—I’m looking forward to hearing about and learning from their experiences! Also, I’m excited to be part of an art program hosted by UMKC’s Women’s Center because I’m an alum of the university.”

Q: What is a source of inspiration for your work?

“Because I currently have a full time job taking up most of my time, often, a primary source of my work is an emotional reaction or response to a moment. Like for example, the inspiration for my work in the Her Art/Their Art show was/is my reaction to various women rapper’s braggadocious and vulgar lyrics in their songs, as well as my reaction to last year’s Grammy performance by Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion while rapping their collab, ‘WAP’.”

Q: Are there any projects you are currently working on that you are excited about?

“I’m excited about the Her Art/Their Art show because of the diversity of perspectives being shared artistically.”

Q: How do you see the intersection of art and gender in your own work? And how has this empowered you, or others?

“The intersection exists because I deliberately see and interpret the world through an identity that is first Black and then cisgender female. That empowers me because my art helps me share a perspective that can be left up to interpretation by the receiver.”

If you are interested learning more about Stasi and her work, she has a profile on The Art House Gallery linked here. And if you want to hear what Stasi has to say on the intersection of art and gender join us at the InterUrban ArtHouse on April 14, 6-7 p.m. for our discussion-, “Gender, Art, and Power”.

 

Artist Salon Spotlight: Meet Brittany Noriega!

By: Emma Stuart

This is the continuation of a segment of blog highlighting local artists that will be involved in the Artist’s Salon, sponsored by the Women’s Center at the InterUrban ArtHouse on April 14, 6-7 p.m. This segment is about local artist Brittany Noriega. Brittany is a graphite and mixed media artist who is greatly motivated by emotional experience. She is very interested in the study of psychology and sociology and explores their impacts on the individual through her work. Her works have an ethereal air that echo the emotive state individuals feel when they are experiencing times of change, struggle, and revival. She often tells a narrative with her highly detailed work that focuses on the overcoming and healing of trauma. Her work is currently being shown at the InterUrban ArtHouse in the “Her Art/Their Art Exhibition”. To get to know our featured speakers we asked them some questions about themselves and their work.

Q: What is your preferred medium of creativity?

“My personal artwork is mostly visual art, usually graphite. I am also the creator of Core. Magazine, a local arts zine. I enjoy showing off how beautiful, creative, and diverse our arts community is, as well as telling artists’ stories.”

Q: What is your interest in participating in the Artist’s Salon? 

“I think that having discussions about what moves us, especially as women, is really important. My artwork is centered in personal stories of abuse, trauma, and overcoming challenges. Speaking about these topics opens up doors to give other women space to heal, or rejoice, or just connect.”

Q: What is a source of inspiration for your work?

“As mentioned above, my work is centered in storytelling, mostly things that I have experienced in my life. My goal is to create a spark that starts a conversation about what women go through every day⁠—the good and the bad. I am consistently inspired by the amazing women in my life, family and friends.”

Q: Are there any projects you are currently working on that you are excited about? 

“I was recently awarded a one-year residency with InterUrban Arthouse for their Centerpieces for Social Justice program. I will be creating a centerpiece for the Her Art/Their Art exhibition next year.”

Q: How do you see the intersection of art and gender in your own work? And how has this empowered you, or others?

“I started drawing about my own life in 2016, as a way to move through the things I have experienced and to heal. I let the process lead me and it has become much more than I ever anticipated. Finding new ways to have hard conversations about trauma has led to some really amazing opportunities. It has been very empowering and healing, but the most important thing to me now is opening up so that other women feel like they can, too.”

If you are interested in learning more about Brittany’s work, you can visit her website here. Her Instagram handle is @bmnoriega, and her work currently being displayed at the InterUrban ArtHouse. If you are interested in hearing her stance on the intersection of art and gender join us at our discussion, “Artist Salon: Gender, Art, Power”.  The event will take place at the InterUrban ArtHouse on April 14, from 6-7 p.m.

5 Black Artists Bringing Excellence to the KC Art Scene

By: Emma Sauer

Kansas City has more to offer than barbecue and sports teams. This is a thriving city teeming with talent, innovation, and excellence, and the city owes much of that to the Black community. From the American Jazz Museum to the AAAC (African American Arts Collective), Black artists have an established presence in Kansas City. Here’s a list (in no particular order) of five Black creators who make incredible art.

Meeks Me Smile Studio

@meeksmesmilestudio Instagram

Shawanna Meeks founded Meeks Me Smile to offer unique, and stylish handbags. One night while getting dressed for a night out with her friends, she realized she didn’t have the right handbag to match her fun night. So, she made her own. The shop offers small accessories, wallets,  clutch bags, totes, handbags, and more–all with cute and colorful prints. Considering these bags are all handmade, they’re marked at a remarkably affordable price. Costs range from $15 to $155 (not including shipping). Meeks Me Smile Studio also dabbles in furniture design and acrylic paintings.

Sonia Sanchez

Source: Creative Commons, John Mathew Smith, https://www.flickr.com/people/36277035@N06

Sonia Sanchez is a poet, playwright, author, and activist. A major influence in the Black arts movement, she’s received both the Robert Frost Medal for distinguished lifetime service to American poetry and the Langston Hughes Poetry Award. Her poetry is known for its mixing of musical elements and traditional poetry. Through her poems she celebrates the art of Black English. Sonia Sanchez’s 16 books have moved readers since her first collection of poems, Homecoming, in 1969. Not much of her poetry is free to read online, but you can check out her books at your local library or purchase them.

Arie Monroe

“Block and Delete”, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

If you like comics or pop art, you’ll love Arie Monroe’s colorful and expressive art. Her comic Tornado Alley, starring Mainasha and her cat Socks, is a wacky take on the Wizard of Oz, but it’s also been a way for Monroe to to communicate her struggles as a black woman, according to her caption statement on “Block and Delete”, a piece currently on display in the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art. She also specializes in caricature art. On Redbubble, she has merch available featuring caricatures, the Tornado Alley crew, and other illustrations.

Whitney Manney

@WhitneyManney Instagram

Whitney Manney is both a fashion designer and her independent ethical fashion label of the same name. WM’s clothes are bold, taking inspiration from street art and urban culture. Whitney Manney aims to make clothes that are more than clothes; they make ready-to-wear wearable art. As for the artist herself, she’s showcased her work at over a dozen galleries and runway shows, including the UMKC Gallery of Art. She’s also done teaching partnerships with the HALO foundation (a foundation dedicated to helping homeless KC youth), and other schools around the area.

NedRa Bonds

Image Source: Connie Fiorella Fitzpatrick, Creative Commons

NedRa Bonds is an activist, quilt artist, and retired teacher in Kansas City, Kansas. Her vibrant, collage-like quilts often make strong statements about the social issues she’s passionate about. Her artwork has been directly inspired by issues of human rights, social justice, race, and environmentalism, to name a few. Bonds also often incorporates elements of satire and political commentary into her art, echoing her principles as an activist. She’s made over 100 quilts since 1989, many that have been shown at different art shows and exhibits in KC. If you’ve spent some time at the Women’s Center, her art may look familiar: for the Women’s Center’s 40th anniversary, she led the creation of our Women’s Equity Quilt!

 

 

 

 

Looking Deeper at our Phenomenal Feminist: Mindy Kaling

By Morgan Clark

Mindy Kaling is a 41-year-old American actress, best known from the very popular TV show The Office. In the show she plays Kelly, a boy crazy, airhead, customer service representative. Kaling was born Vera Mindy Chokalingam, and she has made her way up in Hollywood in her own way without and despite not sticking to society’s standard. Kaling is the daughter of two Indian immigrants who met in Nigeria and moved to the United States in 1979. She grew up watching sketch comedy television which helped develop her humor. Shows like “Living Color” and “Saturday Night Live” were some of her biggest influences.

In 2001 Kaling graduated from Dartmouth College with a B.A. in theatre. After graduating she moved to Brooklyn, there she shared an apartment with a woman named Brenda Wither. Together they created a satire named “Matt &Ben”, which went on to win the best overall production at New York International Fringe Festival in 2002. Their play had two years of success in Los Angeles, and it was Kaling’s door to The Office. The producer of the show Greg Daniel recruited her to help write for the show when it began and from there she ended up playing Kelly from 2005-2013. She also directed many episodes and became executive producer of The Office after many years. She did eventually leave the show that brought her up into the Hollywood scene, when she did she went on to become the first Indian American woman to ever write and star in her own show when she wrote and produced The Mindy Project, a show, in which she stars, about a doctor who is obsessed with finding a man. The show was on for five years before ending in 2017.


Throughout her career Kaling has spoken out about feminism and women’s right. She’s stated that The Mindy Project is “unconsciously feminist” because she is a feminist. (The character is loosely based on her). Even when it came to hiring she made sure to keep her staff diverse with a talented group of women. She has spoken out about her opinions regarding Hollywood and feminism, including how she feels women should not be applauded for doing their job in Hollywood because it should already be expected. Her platform just continues to grow, as she has gone on to be in many movies such as Ocean 8, Late Night, and A Wrinkle in Time. And now she has written two books which detail her own life, and in doing so empower women to be strong and, most importantly, to be themselves. She has and will continue to speak up for women’s rights, especially within the entertainment industry.

C.J. Janovy: Women Who Lead in the Arts

By Chris Howard-Williams

Photo Credit: John Janovy, Jr.

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 C.J. Janovy.

“It’s an especially tense time for women in our country right now, and art is one way people can immerse themselves in difficult ideas and find empathy for their fellow human beings. I’m excited to hear all of our panelists talk about how they do that. I imagine we’ll all leave the conversation with some skills we can use in our daily lives.”

C.J. Janovy joins the panel discussion as our moderator, and we are excited to have her!  A “Midwesterner by birth and ultimately by choice,” as she puts it, Janovy has been active in the Kansas City journalism scene for quite a while now.  She began as an alt-weekly journalist, which included a decade-long stint as editor of The Pitch, Kansas City’s Village Voice Media-owned publication.  Since August of 2014, she has worked for KCUR 89.3, which is Kansas City’s NPR affiliate.  Although she began by reporting on arts and culture (“which is the coolest beat in the business,” she quips on her website), she currently acts as their digital content editor, where she edits news and features for their website.

Gleaning from her years in Kansas City journalism, including her own stories, columns, and blog posts about culture and politics in Kansas, Janovy authored the book No Place Like Home: Lessons in Activism from LGBT Kansas.  Published earlier this year by University Press of Kansas, the book is described as “the epic story of how a few disorganized and politically naïve Kansans, realizing they were unfairly under attack, rolled up their sleeves, went looking for fights, and ended up making friends in one of the country’s most hostile states.”  In order to write the book, Janovy herself traveled across the state of Kansas, from the biggest cities to the smallest farm communities, to find local activists and document their stories, their struggles, and their triumphs.  

On a more personal note, despite having lived on both the West Coast (for an English degree from the University of California at Berkeley) and the East Coast (for a master’s in creative writing from Boston University) for some time, Janovy has decided to settle in a “Place Like Home where she writes her blog.  In July of 2015, she married her longtime partner just as soon as marriage equality was legal in every state.  We look forward to watching her “in action” as our moderator on October 24, and we hope to see you there as well!

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.

Diane Petrella: Women Who Lead in the Arts

By Chris Howard-Williams

Photo Credit: James Allison

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 Diane Petrella.

Without a doubt, one of the things UMKC is known for is its internationally recognized Conservatory of Music and Dance.  Enrolling about 600 students, the Conservatory enables those students to “interact with an exceptionally gifted faculty and with leading visiting artists in ways that are supportive, yet rigorous.”  Among this faculty is none other than our next featured panelist and recently named Dean of the Conservatory, Diane Petrella.

Diane Petrella’s appointment as Dean this past summer came at the request of Conservatory faculty and staff.  An honor, to be sure, this appointment is particularly unique in that it “marks the first time in the Conservatory’s 112-year history that a woman has held this post.”  Diane actually wears quite a few hats for the Conservatory on top of being appointed Dean.  Having been with the Conservatory since 2006, she is also currently Chair of the Keyboard Studies Division and Professor of Piano and Piano Pedagogy.  She teaches applied piano and piano pedagogy courses for the Conservatory and also coordinates the group piano program. With so many accomplishments under her many hats, it should come as no surprise that the Conservatory awarded her the Kauffman Award for Outstanding Service in the spring of 2015.

In addition to her work with the Conservatory, Diane has had many unique experiences in her life as a musician and music educator.  For example, she has collaborated with her husband and fellow Conservatory educator, Nick Patrella, on many projects. Together, they formed the Petrella Ensemble in 2002, a touring performance group that has traveled throughout the United States as well as Mexico, Poland, Austria, and the Czech Republic in an effort to perform and commission new music.  In 2006, they worked together to publish The Musicians Toolbox, Thoughts on Teaching and Learning Music, which was contracted for distribution by Alfred Publications in 2012.  Diane and Nick also collaborated on the article “I’ve Got Rhythm, I’ve Got Phrasing,” which was published in the August/September 2012 issue of American Music Teacher.  

According to her bio page on the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance’s website, Diane “has appeared as a soloist with several regional orchestras and is active as a soloist, collaborative pianist, speaker and adjudicator throughout the United States, including her recent appointment to the College of Examiners of the Royal Conservatory, Toronto, Canada.”  In addition to her roles as musician and educator, Diane is also a mother of five children, including 9-year-old triplets.  “I think managing a hectic home life has certainly honed my leadership and organizational skills,” she quips. We would agree, Diane!  We look forward to hearing more from you as well as our other panelists on October 24!

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.

Cynthia Levin: Women Who Lead in the Arts

By Chris Howard-Williams

Photo Credit: Manon Halliburton

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 Cynthia Levin.

Without a doubt, the Unicorn Theatre in Kansas City offers one of the most unique theatre-going experiences in the city. According to their mission statement, the Unicorn strives to enhance the Kansas City community “by developing and producing high-quality, thought-provoking plays that have never been seen in the region.”  With an emphasis on illuminating social issues and providing inclusive stories which include race, religion, and gender identity, the Unicorn Theatre stands as one of the most preeminent theatres in the city.  Serving as the Producing Artistic Director of the Unicorn Theatre is our next panelist to be featured – Cynthia Levin.

Quite the fixture at the Unicorn, Levin has been with the theatre for 39 of its 44 years in existence.  During that time, she has served as a director, actor, designer or producer for over 300 productions. Reading through a personal letter shared by her on the theatre’s website, Levin’s passion for the Unicorn and the unique plays it showcases is apparent.  “The idea of doing or seeing something you have never experienced before is exhilarating,” she says, “and we want to share that with you.”  With this mission in mind, it is interesting to note that 65 of the Unicorn’s 324 productions have been world premieres.

Levin’s work in the theatre world has extended beyond the Unicorn Theatre on more than one occasion.  She has directed plays such as Number the Stars and To Kill a Mockingbird for Kansas City’s Coterie Theatre, a local children’s theatre that seeks to open the lines of communication between races, sexes, and generations.  She has also directed readings at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., for the MFA Playwright’s Workshop. In addition to her theatre work, Levin is a founding board member of the National New Play Network, which is an organization dedicated to the development and production of new works.  She has also been honored with numerous awards, including the Pinnacle Award for Excellence in the Arts, the Human Rights Campaign Equality Award, and most recently the Kathryn V. Lamkey Award from the Actor’s Equity Association for her ongoing commitment to inclusion and diversity. We look forward to hearing more about Cynthia Levin’s experiences soon as she joins our panel to discuss her role as a woman who leads 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.

Nicole Emanuel: Women Who Lead in the Arts

By Chris Howard-Williams

Photo Credit: Cameron Gee

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 Nicole Emanuel.

If there’s one artist on the panel whose personal and family history plays like something out of a Hollywood movie, it would be Nicole Emanuel.  I don’t think I can do it justice in just one blog article, so I definitely invite you to check out her “About Me” page on her artist’s website.  As a little preview of her family history, there’s mention of a patricide trial in late 1920s Austria, an escape from Nazis in the 1940s, and a pair of great-uncles who rubbed shoulders with the likes of Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, and Isaac Stern, just to name a few.  Beyond that, you’re going to have to check out the site on your own!

What is clear beyond Emanuel’s historical roots in art, however, is how she uses those roots as well as her own experiences in life to inspire her own art, no matter what form it may take.  The 2008 murder of her nephew lead her to create a series of tri-state events known as “Sorry for the Miscommunication: Museum of the Streets,” which included street artists and gallery artists from Chicago, Kansas City and Madison cooperating in a collaborative mural, performances and exhibitions.  Another murder, this time of her great-grandfather, was the impetus for Emanuel to pursue her Masters Degree at UMKC with the goal of writing about her family. Her forthcoming book, titled “Memoraphilia: a granddaughter’s memoir, the life of Jewish artist and storyteller Liouba Golschmann,” centers on her grandmother and weaves through many of the seemingly impossible events in her family’s history.  Emanuel’s ability to use the painful stories of her own life and her family’s history to create art is a poignant reminder of the power of art.

Emanuel’s “current obsession”, as she calls it, is the InterUrban ArtHouse (IUAH) here in Kansas City.  Established in 2011, this Non-Profit organization is dedicated to purchasing and renovating an under-utilized industrial building into affordable, stable art studios, community exhibition/event space and sculpture garden with some of the area’s preeminent artists and craftspeople.  The mission of IUAH, as stated on their website, is “to enrich the cultural and economic vibrancy of the community by creating a place where artists and creative industries can work and prosper in an affordable, sustainable and inclusive environment.”

On a more personal note, Nicole Emanuel is a 1996 graduate of the local Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI), where she received her BFA in Painting and graduated as that year’s KCAI Valedictorian.  She has created 20 large-scale murals and 2 large-scale public sculptures since then. While her paintings and drawings are in numerous corporate and private collections in New York, California, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Kansas and Missouri, Emanuel considers her greatest creative works-of-art to be her own sons.  We are delighted to have Nicole Emanuel join us for this panel and look forward to having her share even more of her unique experiences as a woman who continues to lead 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.

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.