Kate Spade: The Woman Who Helped Young Women Enter Adulthood

By Ann Varner

My first Kate Spade bag was a bright blue, square-shaped purse with green polka dots on the inside. I still have this bag as it’s my favorite. The color and shape are so unique that everywhere I go I receive compliments and the question “where did you get that?” I usually tell them my secret – the Kate Spade surprise sale. This sale was the only way I could afford a Kate Spade bag. All the clearance items would be an extra 75% off. I could always get a bag for under $100 that was big enough to hold everything I needed it to. My Kate Spade bag gave me all the confidence in the world when I was 20-years-old and learning how to navigate life. I had just moved to a city where I knew no one and was figuring out what to do with my life, and this bag symbolized my quest to find myself.  I was learning what it meant to be an independent woman in today’s world and that bag helped me grow from adolescence into young adulthood.

Many young women like me felt the same way. According to a recent article in The New York Times: “Buying a Kate Spade handbag was a coming-of-age ritual for a generation of American women. The designer created an accessories empire that helped define the look of an era. The purses she made became a status symbol and a token of adulthood.” No truer words have been written.

Kate Spade, with her husband Andy Spade, launched the Kate Spade label in 1993. Her bags were quirky, much like her smile. They had bright colors and fun designs that made people smile. Unlike other designer bags, Kate Spade bags were affordable and women of all different economic classes could afford to have one of their own. All Kate Spade bags have their own personality, and it was easy to find one that matched your own. Unlike many of the male purse designers in the world who created neutral colored purses with large logos, Kate Spade knew what women wanted to carry around. She became one of the first women entrepreneurs in the fashion world with a high rise to success. A great quote in the Atlantic sums up what Kate Spade did for women:

“Working in an industry largely run by men, Spade didn’t invent the idea of the professional woman who also cared about style; she was just responding to the reality of what women were already doing…she solved the problem of what women wanted without elitism.”

Kate Spade is a Kansas City native. Born and raised in Kansas City, we are proud to call her our own. She also contributed to the Brain Injury Association of Kansas and Greater Kansas City after her friend suffered a traumatic brain injury. Her impact on the fashion world showed that a girl from the Midwest could become a fashion mogul in New York City.  Her red lipstick and smile will be dearly missed. I encourage you to not focus on how she passed away, but on her successes in life.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, we urge you to get help immediately. Go to a hospital, call 911, or call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433).

Summer Intern Works for Equity in the Arts

By Maleigha Michael

Hi, my name is Maleigha Michael. I’m from Parkville, which is within Kansas City and only about half an hour away from UMKC. I have just finished my first actual year at the University of Missouri where I am planning to major in Art History and minor in German.

I chose to apply for this internship because I wanted to gain experience in the Art History field through the Her Art Project, and learn and promote women in the art industry. Through MU, I joined the sorority of Kappa Alpha Theta, the first Greek letter fraternity for women. Our focus is on empowering other women and encouraging them to take leadership positions within their community. Being exposed to so many leading women this past few semesters has lead me to want to influence positive change and progress for women.

I’m very excited to have the opportunity to work in the Women’s Center over this summer of 2018! I hope to create a more positive environment that pushes equality around UMKC, to learn about gender representation in the art world, and to gain skills that I will be able to take with me after this internship is over.

Janelle Monáe’s New Music Video is a Tribute to Vaginas, Feminism, LGBTQ+ AND Unity of all People

By: Korrien A. Hopkins

This week Janelle Monáe dropped a new music video for her single PYNK. This is the third song and video she has dropped from her upcoming third solo album, “Dirty Computer” which is set to release April 27.

The video PYNK hit the web earlier this week, featuring only women dancers.  Directed by Emma Westenberg, the video opens with Janelle Monáe and a line of backup dancers wearing pink leotards and what the internet has been describing as pussy pants.

The entire video is pink of course. But in addition to the pussy pants and pink everything throughout the video you can see underwear with slogans like “Sex cells” and “I grab back” among many other womanist phrases.

In February, Monae dropped two songs and videos. The songs are “Make Me Feel” and “Django Jane”. Both are songs that I absolutely love. “Make Me Feel” pays a clear homage to the legend Prince, reflecting on his 1986 video for “Kiss”. “Django Jane” which features Monae’s nice rap flow, is a song that celebrates the strength, courage and beauty of black women. It celebrates black culture while addressing the trials and tribulations of identity in a modern society.

Monae stated, “PYNK is a brash celebration of creation, self-love, sexuality, and pussy power! PYNK is the color that unites us all, for pink is the color found in the deepest and darkest nook and crannies of humans everywhere.”

So, she not only uses Pynk to celebrate black women but to Its celebrate everyone and unify us all.

Like she said, deep inside we’re all pink.

There were concerns that the pants in the video might not be inclusive of women who don’t have vaginas. Monáe and Thompson quickly to address those concerns. Thompson tweeted, “To all the black girls that need a monologue that don’t have Vaginas, I’m listening.”  Monáe tweeted, “Thank you to the incomparable and brilliant @TessaThompson_x for helping celebrate US (no matter if you have a vagina or not) all around the world! We see you. We celebrate you. I owe you my left arm T. Xx.”

I am extremely excited for this album to release later this month. I am truly pleased with her releases thus far.  I am so happy, proud, and so thankful for Janelle Monae’s artistry and how she uses her platform. She promotes and supports those who choose to live their truths unapologetically and does so herself. For that I will forever support her. <3

Checkout her latest releases here:

Django Jane


Make Me Feel


Tick, Tock Time’s up for Sexual Violence

By Zaquoya Rogers

Last night at the Golden Globe Awards, Hollywood elite strolled the red carpet in their finest black attire. It was no coincidence that everyone chose to wear black. The choice was very conscious as a show of solidarity and support for the Time’s Up Campaign against sexual harassment.  I first became aware of the campaign from a video on social media about a legal defense fund for sexual assault cases. Interested, I researched more. And what I found, I really loved.

Over 300 actresses, directors and writers including Shonda Rimes and America Ferrera, have launched a campaign to help fight sexual harassment. The Time’s up Campaign raises money to fund legal support for men and women victims of sexual harassment and violence. This in itself is amazing, but what really made me get excited for this campaign was that the target audience for this support is working class men and women. The founders described the effort as “unified call for change from women in entertainment for women everywhere.”

Many cases of sexual violence happen amongst regular working class people who do not have the financial resources to take action against their abuser. Taylor Swift stated in her sexual assault case “I acknowledge the privilege that I benefit from in life, society and my ability to shoulder the enormous cost of defending myself in a trial like this.”

Time’s Up has raised $13 million out of their $15 million goal. I absolutely support this because I believe that celebrities have a duty to help advocate for issues that many people are fighting for. They have the resources, the power and the following to actually make progress towards positive change.

A Raisin in the Sun: This 1950s play is still important

By Ann Varner   

Last week in my Intro to Theater class, we read A Raisin in the Sun. Coincidentally, this week’s reading in my Black Studies class also mentioned this award-winning play.

Lorraine Hansberry wrote this drama, becoming the first African American woman to have a play produced on Broadway in 1959. Set in the 1950s, Hansberry’s work addresses the racial and gender issues that occurred then and still ring true today. Specifically, Hansberry chronicles a black family’s move to an all-white neighborhood and the harsh, racially charged reactions they face.

Though Hansberry’s play reveals societal progress, it might cause a modern Kansas City reader to think of the Troost divide, or J.C. Nichols’ restrictive covenants (which kept African Americans from buying homes in certain areas, similar to the plight illustrated in A Raisin in the Sun).

For these reasons and more, Hansberry and her play remain relevant. She was the first African American playwright and the youngest American to receive the New York Critics’ Circle Award.

I won’t spoil the play, but if you have not read it, check it out. If you’re more of a movie person, you can watch the older version that was produced in 1961, or the newer version that was produced in 2008. Even these two versions emphasize how important Hansberry’s play is, as it continues to be retold in new, exciting ways for different audiences. Enjoy!

Crafty Feminist Hour


“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” – Audre Lorde.

Take some time for self care and join us for crafting, conversation, and fun! Open to all skill levels, genders, and UMKC and Kansas City community members.

1st and 3rd Fridays of the month at 12:00 p.m.
Spring 2017 Dates:
February 3 & 17
March 3 & 17
April 7 & 21
May 5

Questions: email bethmanb@umkc.edu

Supplies (other than coloring books and colored pencils) not provided.

Don’t Touch My Crown

By: Korrien Hopkins

          Solange Knowles  released her new album, A Seat at the Table, earlier this month. Judging by how social media and everyone including myself is raving about this, Solange’s A Seat at the Table is a must have accessory for fall. And I can predict it will be blessing our ear drums leading up to the spring and summer. The first song I heard on her new album was Don’t Touch My Hair and for now I have to say it is my favorite. Upon reading the title of the song you would just think Solange is  trying to simply preserve her nice hair style. But listening to the lyrics, you learn the true message of the song.[youtube]https://youtu.be/YTtrnDbOQAU[/youtube]

The first message I received from the song is the fight against cultural appropriation. Black women in this world you are constantly being robbed. During slavery black women were being robbed of their freedom, their children, and their men. Today not much has change, but it is evident that this world shows a great appreciation of what black women have to offer. African Americans are great influencers in the arts. But as society comes to love our Black culture, we are also robbed of our unique style, music, and our black aesthetic. Hair represents so much more in black culture than most people realize. It is spiritual to many in a certain aspect: it is self-expression, self-love, and creativity. In an interview, Solange told Elle Magazine how when she cut her hair and decided to go natural she was brutally attacked in the media and the affect it had on her:

“There was a fashion editor of a major magazine who was white and for Halloween she wore an afro wig and had black face and called herself Solange. There was another magazine that composed celebrity-look-alikes, and they used a dog for me. They talked about my hair being like one of a dog, literally. So, hair just became so complex for me.”

After reading that article, I learned that recently Marc Jacobs released his 2017 spring collection. His models presented a beautiful array of spring colors as well as faux dreadlocks. Dreadlocks have been around forever but in today’s culture derived from Rastafarians. Aside from the beauty of dreadlocks, many have a spiritual association with them. Although some may see it as a hot new “trend” having a runway of white women with dreadlocks, I don’t see it as a fashion statement, but every bit of culture appropriation. This has been the case for many “high fashion” designers where they take something that on a black woman is viewed as “ghetto” or “dreadful,” but it’s high fashion when copied by white designers for their white models. For centuries, black women have not been seen as beautiful, including their hair. At least now, though this song, I hear black women loving themselves loudly and unapologetically.

“Don’t touch my hair When it’s the feelings I wear
Don’t touch my soul
When it’s the rhythm I know
Don’t touch my crown
They say the vision I’ve found
Don’t touch what’s there
When it’s the feelings I wear

They don’t understand
What it means to me
Where we chose to go
Where we’ve been to know
They don’t understand
What it means to me
Where we chose to go
Where we’ve been to know…

Don’t touch my pride
They say the glory’s all mine
Don’t test my mouth
They say the truth is my sound”

This song is beautiful because it is a message to women of self-love. Everyone has their own hair and their own style, and what they like.  Being you is something that you own as an individual. People will try to imitate you, they may want you to imitate them and live up to their standards of beauty and they may try to make you feel horrible if you don’t. “Don’t Touch My Hair” is the preservation of you. It is a movement, praising your style letting you know that it’s cool to be you and be unique. Be you loudly, boldly, and unapologetically because you miss out on you trying to be someone else.

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.