Art on the Rise

Curators-ExhibitKansas City is filled with such vibrancy and beauty. It is notorious for its art scene. This March, The Women’s Center has events planned to shed light on some talented artists. We will be hosting events such as The 50 Women Exhibit, which is a groundbreaking art exhibit featuring the works of 50 diverse women artist from around the world and the contributions they are making to the ceramic arts. Makers Curate/Curators Make Exhibit, highlights the challenges and the creative parallels between curating and artistic production, and features work from those curating the 50 Women Exhibit. Six distinguished people in all fields of artistic production came together with a shared concept: to demonstrate that whether making or curating, their work is visionary. The Artist Salon will be a discussion of the status of women in the art world. While, Roos in the City will be a guided tour of the art exibit, 50 Women: A Celebration of Women’s Contributions to Ceramics in the Changing Gallery. 3-19-16 Roos in the City-01The admission, transportation and lunch will be included.

When you think of great masters in art, you most likely have a male artist that comes to mind. It is of the utmost importance to elevate these fantastic female artist into the public eye; to display art that demands to be seen, and to 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 ability. This is exactly what we aim to do through these events, and through the Women’s Center’s Her Art Project. The Her Art Project strives to support the achievements of female artists of all disciplines. Focusing on advocacy, education, and support, the Her Art Project takes action to ensure that women are included, recognized, and celebrated for their artistic contributions. 50-Women-exhibit-SCALAArtist-Salon-SCALA

Shanice Williams @ The Wiz Live!

By Matiara Huff

Shanice Williams


Imagine being a 19-year old black actress debuting as the lead of an old-time classic story. Shanice Williams is a 19 year old actress that made her debut as Dorothy on NBC’s The Wiz Live! If you didn’t see it, December 3, NBC did a live televised performance of The Wiz. The show was an all-black cast that included Queen Latifah, Ne-Yo, Uzo Aduba, Mary J. Blige, Common, David Alan Grier, Amber Riley, and Stephanie Mills. As well as the director of A Raisin In The Sun, Kenny Leon and the choreographer from Dreamgirls and countless hip-hop music videos, Fatima Robinson.

Shanice being casted as the lead in a show like this, is literally a dream come true and an inspiration to other young black actresses. Shanice is from Rahway, New Jersey, and attended Rahway High School, and briefly attended American Musical and Dramatic Academy in LA. She receive the part in an open audition, where thousands of girls from around the country tried out. The opportunity that she received on Thursday, December 3rd, 2015 is life changing, and based on her performance, she didn’t take it for granted.

Fatima Williams

By Matiara Huff

Fatima Williams is a name that not many people know, but her choreography is impossible to miss. This isn’t even an exaggeration, she has choreographed so many famous music videos it is unbelievable, including Happy by Pharrell Williams, Boom Boom Pow by Black Eyed Peas, Remember the Time by Michael Jackson, One In A Million and Rock the boat by Aaliyah. She also choreographed commercials for Pepsi, Old Navy, Gap, and H&M. As well as working on countless T.V. shows and movies including Dreamgirls, the Superbowl 45 halftime show, Miss Congeniality, Cheetah Girls, Norbit, and the 2005 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, and most recently The Wiz Live!

The Sound of Valerie June

By Danielle Lyons

The twang and power behind Valerie June’s voice is something rarely seen in today’s music industry. She refers her music as, “organic moonshine roots music.” Rolling Stone calls her style a mix of, “Rural blues, Southern soul, back porch country, old-time gospel and Appalachian folk into a sonic stew.” Armed with a banjo, a guitar and her powerful voice, Valerie June creates music that demands to be felt.

9626151481_1698efcf4b_oBorn and raised in Tennessee, she was raised around the gospel community. In fact, he first job was hanging posters in town for an array of gospel groups as well as Bobby Womack, K-C & JoJo, and Prince. At the age of 19, she began recording in the music city of Memphis. She continued music and eventually got her first break on a small MTV series called $5 Cover. She since has been working from project to project; always creating and playing.

Her most recent endeavor is her debut album, Pushin’ Against a Stone which was released in the UK and Europe. Valerie says this of the connection to her album and her roots, “I feel I’ve spent my life pushing against a stone. And the jobs I’ve had have been fitting for getting a true feel for how the traditional artists I loved came home after a hard day to sit on the porch and play tunes until bedtime.” This commemoration of her life has won her a nomination for a Blues Music Award in June of 2014.

Amanda Palmer and the Art of Asking

By Danielle Lyons

AmandaPalmer_liveAmanda Palmer got her start in the music industry in an indie band called, The Dresden Dolls. She has since been involved with many musical collaborations; her most successful endeavor being Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra. In her career, she is notorious for doing spontaneous performances that are completely free to the public. An integral part of her career has been being accessible and in close contact with her fans.

After leaving her record label, she started a Kickstarter campaign in order to raise money for a record, an art book and a tour. She made the conscious decision to give away her music for free. Instead of forcing them to pay, she asked them for their help in funding her current projects. Her ability to ask for help is what made this Kickstarter campaign a huge success. She raised 1.2 million dollars; the largest music crowd funding to date. She later delivered a speech at a TEDtalk event called, The Art of Asking. Later on she released a book by the same name, which since has reached The New York Times Best Sellers List.

Americanah- A book discussion

By Thea Voutiristsas

americanahJoin us for our book discussion, An Examination of Blackness in Multiple Worlds: A Discussion about Americanah by Chimamda Ngozi Adiche. Join us Wednesday, November 4th from 12:00-1:00 p.m. in the Miller Nichols Library, Room 303, 800 E. 51st St. The book discussion will examine race, identity and belonging across Nigeria, East-Coast America, and England.

Lunch will be provided.

RSVP to or 816-235-1638 by November 2nd.

This event is co-sponsored by UMKC Black Studies Program, UMKC International Student Affairs, UMKC Libraries, and UMKC Multicultural Student Affairs.

See you there!

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.

Art Student Joins Women’s Center Staff

By Madelina Nuñez

MadelinaHi everyone! My name is Madelina Nuñez and I am majoring in Studio Art and minoring in English with an emphasis in Writing. I am a conceptual artist dealing with issues of Latina identity and Cuban-American history. Before coming to the Women’s Center, I worked as a Gallery Assistant at the UMKC Gallery of Art for two years. My other experience includes the Nelson-Atkins Mellon Curatorial Fellowship during the Summer of 2014, an internship with ALIVE Magazine St. Louis,  and Design Editor for Number One Magazine. I also write a blog called Latina Lives which is hosted on Tumblr. Outside of work, I enjoy being on my bicycle and exploring what Kansas City has to offer. I am also a huge coffee fanatic and am definitely capable of making myself cry from my own jokes. With my time at the UMKC Women’s Center I hope to get to know everyone who walks in and to help support and encourage them in any way possible. I am very excited to be here and cannot wait to get to know more of the talented women here at UMKC!

Meet Female Lighting Designer: Matiara Huff!

Matiara Huff, the subject of our interview with one of her younger sisters.

Matiara Huff, the subject of our interview with one of her younger sisters.

By Rocky Richards

I was able to sit down and chat with Matiara Huff, a female lighting design student at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Check out the interview below!

What is your major?

My major is theatre design and production. (Specifically lighting)

What year is this for you at UMKC?

Second Year

What do you do as a lighting designer?

I use stage lighting to create focal points and moods on the stage.

When did you decide that you wanted to be a lighting designer?

When I started at UMKC I went to few lighting work calls to check out other students work. Before I noticed I became intrigued and realized it was something I would like to do as well!

Does gender play a major role as a female designer?

Yes, of course there’s a lot work that goes into lighting which many would look at as construction. We spend a lot of time up on ladders and moving heavy lights; in this case some would feel it’s a man’s task but I prefer to differ.

What advice would you give a woman that wanted to go into a field that society has told them is only for men?

First, I would say “Love what you do”! If you aren’t for sure things won’t get easier. Second, keep pushing no matter what, this field particularly is open-minded so there will be people on your side, but sometimes you will endure others who won’t be on your side. In this instance you just have to push past negativity and continue to work.

Who inspires you as a female lighting designer?

As a female designer I am inspired by the graduate lighting design students here at UMKC! They are almost always put under a lot of pressure and they consistently make it work.

Meet Dorothy Dandridge!

Image sourced through Creative Commons via Google Images

Image sourced through Creative Commons via Google Images

By Rocky Richards

Have you ever heard of the term triple threat? Dorothy Dandridge is one of the first African American women to be recognized as a triple threat. From film and theatre to singing and dancing, this woman could do it all. Dorothy Jean Dandridge was born November 9th in 1922. As a young child she started out performing with her sister Vivian under the name “The Wonder Children,” and they later toured the southern United States for five years. Eventually work slowed down for the Dandridge’s and Dorothy took a big chance and moved to Hollywood.

Dorothy is best known for being the first black actress to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in the 1954 film Carmen Jones. Dorothy was originally caste as Cindy Lou because the director felt her sophisticated look was more suitable for a smaller role. She didn’t let this stop her and reinvented her look and later was caste for the leading role.

Dorothy Dandridge paved the way and left a legacy for African American woman in film and media today. Stars such as Halle Berry, Cicely Tyson, Jada Pinkett and many others have all acknowledged Dorothy’s contribution to the roles of African Americans in film. Every day, I’m motivated to give my all in the field of acting so that I can pay tribute to individuals who have paved the way for me today. Dorothy Dandridge maybe just an actress to some people, but for me she’s a legendary icon that had guts to do the things that she loved despite opposition!

Thank You Dorothy Dandridge.