The Her Art Project strives to support the achievements of local women artists of all disciplines and advance the equity of all women in the arts in Kansas City. Through advocacy, education, and support, our programs and services address issues relevant to women and take action to ensure that women are included, recognized, and celebrated for their artistic contributions. Through our efforts, we hope to undo past discrimination and exclusion and to raise awareness to the unique challenges that women artists face as they bring together motherhood, careers, and artistic fulfillment.
The Her Art Project is a citywide collaboration involving various UMKC and Kansas City area arts organizations and individuals who value the creativity of women.
Vision: To create an arts community in Kansas City where women artists feel included, valued, and supported.
Mission: To provide programs and services that address issues that are relevant to women artists in Kansas City and advance women’s equity in the arts.
- Assist UMKC in achieving its goal to create excellent programs in visual and performing arts on campus and in the community.
- Develop and sponsor programming that enhances the creative skills of women and assist in their development and advancement as arts professional
- Build networks and promote collaboration among UMKC, local artists, and community organizations to serve and support a diverse community of women artists;
- 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 abilities
The Kansas City area has a vibrant arts community consisting of world-class museums, including the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, the Spencer Museum of Art, and the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, accredited educational institutions, such as the Kansas City Art Institute and the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance; neighborhoods that support the arts, such as The Country Club Plaza and The Crossroads Arts District; and venues that support the performing arts, including the Missouri Repertory Theater, the Unicorn Theater, and the state-of-the-art Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts currently under construction in Downtown. The arts community consists of a diverse group of women from all over the metro area who perform, create, teach, and administer the arts.
Past efforts have been made to formally celebrate the contribution that local women have made to the arts. In 2006, the Leedy-Voulkos Arts Center featured the exhibit Womb Wisdom, highlighting the work of local artist Ritchie Kay. The exhibit was accompanied by a series of lectures and workshops focusing on issues relevant to women artists. In 2007, The Carter Arts Center at Penn Valley Community College hosted the exhibit In the Presence of My Sisters, featuring local quilt artist Sonie Ruffin. The college also hosted a panel discussion involving 22 prominent women in the arts discussing their various artistic roles in Kansas City.
In 2010, the UMKC Women’s Center led a collaborative effort that created programming to celebrate Kansas City’s women artists and addressed the unique challenges women face as they pursue artistic careers. The Her Art Project began with a group art exhibit in Kansas City’s Crossroads Art District featuring 28 local female artists. The project also included a lecture on women in film at Miller Nichols Library, a documentary screening and panel discussion at the Tivoli Theater, and an artist salon at the Diastole. Bringing together 14 campus and community partners including the UMKC Conservatory of music and Dance, the UMKC Dept. of Communications, the UMKC Dept. of Theater, the Leedy-Voulkos Arts Center, the Women’s Employment Network, and many others, the Her Art project reached over 3000 people through its events, press coverage, and social media. It was the first of its kind in Kansas City that addressed sexism and discrimination in the arts as an institutionalized problem that affects a woman’s work/life balance and her opportunities for career development and advancement in the arts.