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.

Artist Salon Spotlight: Meet Natasha Ria El-Scari!


By: Emma Stuart

This segment is a continuation of the 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 1th at 6-7 p.m. Natasha Ria El-Scari will be one of the featured speakers at the event.

Natasha is a Kansas City local with many talents. She is a published poet and writer with 5 published written works. Her most well-known being “Mama Sutra: Love and Lovemaking Advice to my Son”, which is all about the conversations on lovemaking that she has had with her son. This is a non-fiction work those contrasts some of her other fiction work including “Growing Up Sina” and “The Only Other”. To get to know our featured speakers, we asked them some questions about themselves and their work.  Here’s what Natasha had to share with us: 

Q: What is your preferred medium of creativity?

“Poetry and specifically spoken word.”

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

“ I am always elated to connect with other women artists in community. This event will be one of those beautiful times.”

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

“The source of my inspiration is to create from the most authentic voice I can. That voice is that of a womanist, a woman, an African American, a mother and a lover.”

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

“Currently, I am making attempts at completing my 6th book, Steelife. Each day it seems further away. I have another secret project in preparation now and I get giddy thinking of it. As an editor and manuscript developer I do admit that other’s work sometimes precedes mine. That is often the struggle of writers/artists who also teach and work in their field of passion. ”

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

“I believe that my art as it intersects with gender completely empowers my intended audience, women, and girls but also the men who seek to and need to understand their perspective. There is something special about art and humor that allows people to see their oppression for what it is and to see their participation in others oppression. ” 

 If you are interested in learning more about Natasha’s work you can visit her website, which has information about her books, art, coaching services, and more. And if you want to hear more about what Natasha has to say about the intersection about art and gender join us at The InterUrban ArtHouse on April 14, 6-7 p.m. for our discussion- “Gender, Art, Power”.

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,

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!





Lavinia Fontana: Renaissance Woman

By: Emma Stuart

The Renaissance was a time of rebirth in Western art, culture, politics, and the economy. There were many things changing at that time and one of the most notable things being art. When most people think about Renaissance-era artists a few select names come to mind: Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Caravaggio, and Jan van Eyck, to name a few. These are all phenomenal artists who changed thescope of the art world forever. However, there is a name that is often left out of this list.

That name is Lavinia Fontana. She is considered to be the very first working female artist. She was born in Bologna Italy in 1552 to a family of prestigious painters. Her father, Prospero Fontana was a teacher at the School of Bologna which was an important art school at the time. Her artistic talent was nurtured by her father from an early age. This great talent served her very well in life, and when she desired to be married her skills were used as a sort-of dowry. She was married to an amateur artist and merchant who greatly regarded her skills.

The two went on to have a happy/successful marriage with 11 children. She continued to work on her craft even as a mother and her career excelled. In a very scandalous change from the status quo of the Renaissance era, Lavinia was the breadwinner for her family and her husband worked as her studio assistant. Lavinia was one of the original female powerhouses of the art world, she was able to pave the way for some of the other female artists that we know and love. As her work continued to excel and her career to soar, she gained a very prestigious list of patrons. These patrons include Italian Cardinal Gabriele Paleotti, Spanish Cardinal Francisco Pacheco, The King of Spain Phillip II, and many members of the nobility across Europe.

Portrait of a Noble Woman, ca. 1580, by Lavinia Fontana. National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Her specialty was portraiture and was highly sought after by female nobles in Italy as she was able to capture the splendor of their dress alongside their dogs, who they wished to be included in the portraits. This type of portraiture showed a juxtaposition of the stiff attire of the noblewoman and the playfulness of an excited puppy.

Minerva Dressing. 1613, by Lavinia Fontana. Galleria Borghese.

Another one of her great accomplishments was breaking into the boy’s club scene of church painters. She was commissioned to paint an altar piece for the new cathedral dedicated to Saint Hyacinth of Poland. She was able to leave her mark in one of the oldest and most highly venerated churches in Rome. Lavinia was making waves in the art community in more ways than one. She was also known for being the first woman to paint a female nude in the history of art.

This magnificent story of hers is often untold because she was not supposed to have succeeded in the boy’s club that was the Renaissance art scene, but against all odds she pursued her dreams and make a sizeable impact on the world of art. She was able to have a star-studded career and also have a family who encouraged her work. Lavinia Fontana was a magnificent woman, artist, and mother and her story deserves to be heard.

Celebrating Women’s History Month: Sonie Ruffin

By Christina Terrell

My first encounter with Sonié Joi Thompson-Ruffin was at the Women’s Center 2019 “Persistent Muse: Women, Art and Activism” event. For this event the Women’s Center partnered with the Inter-Urban Art-House where a panel of influential Women, like Ruffin, spoke about how their artwork advocates for Women’s rights and issues.

During the panel event I found that Sonié’s presentation really spoke to me personally. She embodied a very vibrant and genuine personality. Sonié was not just lecturing and telling us about her background and career but she was putting emotion, humor while sharing a story with the audience that really connected all she has done for women’s activism too her audience.

Another aspect that drew me to Sonie’s story was that along with the fact that she is a renowned contemporary fabric artist, author, lecturer and independent curator, she has also conducted workshops and lectures on African-American quilting.

Ruffin’s extraordinary textile work has been displayed in numerous museums, art exhibits and galleries internationally. However, one place that her quilts have been displayed that really hits home for me would have to be that her very first art exhibit was displayed right here in Kansas City and more importantly, at UMKC African American Culture House .

Sonié has been a-part of many influential events, but to imagine that to this day she loves to come back to where her activism journey all started. She is honored every time she comes to educate and advocate here at UMKC and share her story with young women like me. She has inspired myself and others to explore their artistic side and I commend her because you never know where or when your women’s activism journey will start.

Healing Arts Workshop: Loving Ourselves Valentines

by Thea Voutiritsas

Scala-revised_Loving-Ourselves-ValentinesAs February begins, so does the Valentine’s Day frenzy. As we plan for our loved ones this Valentine’s Day, let’s not forget to take some time for ourselves. The entire month of February, the Women’s Center will be hosting Healing Arts Corner: Loving Ourselves Valentines. Stop by the Millor Nichols Library, 800 E. 51st. St or the UMKC Student Union Bookstore, 5100 Cherry St. any time between February 1st to February 29th to create a valentine for the most important person in your life – YOU!  Co-sponosred by UMKC Libraries and the UMKC Bookstores.

Healing Arts Workshop: Defining Boundaries

By Thea VoutiritsasHealing-Arts_Defining-Boundaries

We’re just one week away from our first Healing Arts Workshop! Join us on Wednesday, January 27th for art-making activities designed to transform and empower you. We will be in the Miller Nichols Learning Center Lobby, 800 East 51st St. from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Wiki Women Artists Edit-A-Thon at UMKC

By Thea VoutiristsasWiki-Women-evite

On Saturday, November 7th, come join us for our Wiki Women Artists Edit-A-Thon! The afternoon will be dedicated to adding more female artists to Wikipedia. No experience necessary. Light snacks will be provided. Free parking on Saturday. Please bring your own laptop. You can find us in the Miller Nichols Library iX theater from 1:00 to 4:00 PM. For more information about the Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon movement, check out Art+Feminism.

Please create your own Wikipedia account before attending the event! Wikipedia does not allow more than five users to create an account under the same IP address in the same day. After creating an account, you can register here:

Click “Edit.” Next to the asterisk (bullet) at the bottom of the list, type a tilde (~) 4 times to sign your name. Then, click “Save” at the bottom of the page.

We look forward to seeing you there!

This event is co-sponsored by the UMKC Department of Art & Art History and UMKC Graduate Art History Association.

Women are WONDERful Artists: There Needs to be Gender Equality in the Arts

Let's crush the gender gap in art! "Like" the Her Art project page on Facebook, and help support female artists in Kansas City!

Let’s crush the gender gap in art!
“Like” the Her Art project page on Facebook, and help support female artists in Kansas City!

By Anna-Maria Kretzer

The other night I was watching the Antiques Roadshow and I saw a story about a mobile by Alexander Calder that I got really excited about.  The woman who brought it explained that Calder had attended a party at her aunt and uncle’s house in 1958.  When he saw a pillow that the woman’s aunt had embroidered with an image of his artwork, Calder was “astounded.”  I imagine he had never seen modernist abstract imagery interpreted in a textile medium before that.  Calder was so excited about the pillow that the woman’s aunt gave it to him.  And in return Calder sent her one of his own creations: a mobile.

As a huge fan of textile arts I was thrilled to hear this story!  Alexander Calder recognized the aesthetic value of a needlepoint pillow as equal to his own work during a time that pretty much anything a woman might make in her own home had inferior status to art made by men in studios.  Although many feminist writers, including Rozsika Parker and Griselda Pollock, have written about art forms that have traditionally been made by women, they are often still placed way below painting and sculpture in the hierarchy of high art.  A growing number of professional artists use “craft” media in work that is destined for a museum or gallery, but there is still a prejudice against people who learn their technical skills at home from a relative instead of at an art school.

Alexander Calder was able to see past the rigid boundaries of the established boundaries of what ART was in his time.  A newfound respect for Calder blossomed within me as I watched the show.  The appraiser, Christopher Kennedy, went on to explain that the mobile in question was probably made earlier than ’58, and that Calder was making larger “public art” by that time.  In contrast, this mobile was constructed on a smaller and more intimate scale.  Even so, the appraiser revealed that it would probably bring a million dollars at auction.  The story about Calder’s interest in a needlepoint pillow and the exchange that followed had almost roused me to that complete state of awe experienced by art nerds such as myself when I heard the (male) appraiser say, “Not bad for a pillow.”

My awe switched instantly to anger.  Calder may have valued a needlepoint pillow as much as one of his works of art, but the appraiser obviously didn’t.  His condescending comment made it clear that sexist ideas about what art is and who makes it are still very much alive today.  I wish I could see the pillow that “astounded” Calder so.  I would love to see it in exhibit with the mobile that Calder gave in thanks.  Especially if that meant that a needlepoint pillow would be on display in the Modern gallery at a prominent museum!

To support women in the arts in Kansas City, and promote gender equity in the arts, “like” our Her Art Project Facebook Page.