KCAI Alumni Blog

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KCAI Alumni Gathering

Eric Dobbins @ August 28, 2013


Grand Arts/ Reactor Design Studio

5:30 – 6:30pm – Happy Hour @ Grand Arts

6:30-8pm – Alumni Gathering @ Reactor Design Studio (next door)

1819/ 1817 Grand Blvd.
KCMO  64108

For the 2013 KCAI alumni gathering in Kansas City, we are working with a diverse collection of alumni owned and operated ventures to create a multi-venue and multidisciplinary collaborative experience.

Alumni contributors include:
Reactor Design Studio
Spin! Pizza
Spray Booth Gallery
Bread! KC
Grand Arts and more!

Dr. Jacqueline Chanda, president, Nicolle Ratliff, vice president for institutional advancement, and many other members of the faculty and staff will all be in attendance.

Food and drink will be provided.

We hope you can join us!

Recent Alumni Gathering: Kansas City

Eric Dobbins @ October 10, 2012


On Saturday, Oct. 6th KCAI hosted its 2012 Regional Alumni Gathering in Kansas City. We held the event at City Ice Arts, a gallery and event space that was currently exhibiting the work of Gehry Kohler (’90 sculpture). In lieu of a traditional mixer, the Alumni Relations Department invited KCAI alumni to play an active roll in the experience and entertainment for the evening.


Jaimie Warren (’02 printmaking) and Erin Zona (’02 printmaking), along with fellow Whoop Dee Doo cohort Matt Roche, designed and installed a heavenly rendition of the famous front door of KCAI’s Mineral Hall.


This served as an ethereal gateway to our gathering, equipped with a surreal, autumnal soundscape and undulating plastic corridor leading up to this entrance.


Once inside, the festivities ensued…


Thanks to Graphic Design chair Tyler Galloway for making it out!


Will Burnip (’07 printmaking) and Jesse McAfee (’07 interdisciplinary arts) of The Print Factory designed and printed (on the spot!) our commemorative poster for this year’s gathering.


Each print was equipped with a space intentionally left blank for signatures, marks and autographs.


Also in attendance was Little Freshie, an all natural soda fountain and espresso bar. They were serving up the signature KCAI cocktail, the Vander-Orange-Slice!


Party pic!


Party Pic!


… and Party Pic!


As we began to take our seats in preparation for the PechaKucha portion of the evening’s entertainment, MK12’s “Follow the Sun” reminded us to make a quick stop by the snack bar… but watch your step! MK12 is a Kansas City-based design and filmmaking collective comprised of KCAI alumni Jed Carter (’98 photo/video), Teddy Dibble (’80 sculpture), Tim Fisher (’98 photo/video), James Ramirez (’05 photo/new media) and Ben Radatz (attended photo/video).


KCAI’s President, Dr. Jacqueline Chanda made her introduction, and the Pecha Kuchas began! Pecha Kucha is a presentation format that is based on a simple idea: 20 images x 20 seconds per image. It’s a format that makes presentations concise, and keeps things moving at a rapid pace.


First up, Ayla Rexroth (’10 painting) sharing her story of the Subterranean Gallery. SUB is an experimental art space that merges a domestic living space with public gallery space. It is located underground in a basement apartment.  Ayla acts as artist, curator, and hostess responding to the artwork installation process by modifying the apartment to accommodate artworks. You can follow Ayla’s work with Subterranean Gallery at www.subterraneangallery.com.


Donna Bachmann (’70 painting) presented images of her strong, beautiful and strange assemblage wall relief sculptures. The image that you see here is that of one of her sculptures. If you were to view this piece from the side, you would see that its sculptural components rise 3-4 inches off the surface. Visit www.donnabachmann.com to see more.


Seth Johnson (’01 printmaking) rounded out the presentations with slides of the mystical, romantic, and darkly comical. He shared images of his personal work as well as the collaborative projects and installations of his collective Carnal Torpor.


Center pieces designed and fabricated by Whoop Dee Doo accompanying a cup of pens (for autographing the commemorative poster!) and copies of KCAI’s most recent View Book! This book offered our alumni some up-to-date insight into current KCAI programming, faculty and facilities.


And that’s a wrap for this year’s KC Regional Alumni Gathering! Thanks to all of of our participants, as well as Jill Myers (’96 illustration) from Moxie Catering for providing the cuisine and Boulevard Brewery for supplying us with beer.

Later this year, and into the next, we’ll be taking our show on the road! Alumni Gatherings are in the works for Los Angeles, Portland, OR., St. Louis, Chicago, Houston, Austin, TX and New York. If you’d like to be involved, email us at alumni@kcai.edu. We hope to see you there!

Til then, stay connected with KCAI and other alumni through the Online Directory, the KCAI Alumni Facebook Page or KCAI Alumni Twitter Handle!

KCAI is participating in a National Arts Survey

@ September 6, 2012

Small color logo

The Kansas City Art Institute is participating in the 2012 Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP) – a one-of-a-kind survey that explores the lives of arts alumni nationwide.

This fall, all arts graduates of KCAI will receive an email invitation to participate in the on-line survey. By verifying our alumni office has a current email address, alumni can be sure not to miss their chance to share their experiences and help shape the future of arts education across the country and at KCAI.

After completing the survey, alumni will have access to a site where they can see how their experience compares with those of other arts graduates across North America. They can see where arts graduates live, where they work, what they earn and how their arts educations have influenced their lives.

The time our alumni spend sharing their experiences will help the Kansas City Art Institute along with many other participating institutions across the country better prepare students for success, whether they stay in the arts or use what they’ve learned in other professional fields.

SNAAP is supported by grants from the Surdna Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and other foundations.

Q & A with Garret Peek (‘05 design), lead designer for the Draw Something app

@ July 31, 2012


Please introduce yourself.
My name is Garrett Peek, the former associate creative director of OMGPOP and current user interface designer for Zynga. I design and develop interactive social games.

What brought you to KCAI and what was your work like when you arrived?
I grew up a bit north of Kansas City in the small town of Kearney, Mo. The first time I came to KCAI was for a high school summer program. I came back several more times and really fell in love with the campus. I took extracurricular and supplemental art classes in high school and originally came to KCAI intending to go into painting. My portfolio consisted of traditional oil and charcoal studies, mainly figurative and still lifes. I always knew I wanted to be in a creative field and Kansas City has a very supportive and diverse community dedicated to the arts.

Any specific courses or professors stand out as the most influential?
KCAI and the design department effectively taught me skills that up until that point I had never developed –– creative problem solving, “design thinking,” visual communication, typography, digital composition, production, presentation, creative writing and about a hundred more tactile skills. The curriculum was broad too. I learned things as diverse as book binding, poster and packaging design, Web design, photography, wood work and steel welding.

Every teacher was influential. Our art history and liberal arts classes were a great balance to the studio courses. But the two professors that stick out the most in my mind were James Reittinger (head of the graphic design department at the time) and Tyler Galloway (current department head). They were the main instructors my second year in the design department and setup a curriculum that emphasized creative problem solving with a focus on communicating ideas effectively. Every project started with an idea and a problem to solve. That’s the core of creative thinking; regardless of what medium you use the thinking is always number. I credit them with giving us the tools to adapt and thrive in any industry we applied our skills in.

Please describe your experience from graduation to present.
I did several internships at design and advertising agencies while I was in school and felt comfortable in those roles. After graduation one of my coworkers from an old internship called me up with an opportunity to apply for a position at an agency in Saint Louis. I completed a test assignment and drove out to the agency twice for interviews. The agency, Cannonball, does an incredible amount of top level work for consumer brands. They extended me a “temp-to-perm” position, which I accepted, and quickly got extended to full-time. It was a life changing experience. They are a small independently owned company that works incredibly hard. They have an open environment and everyone is involved in the ideation and creation process. I was just a few months out of school and was invited to sit in and present Super Bowl ad ideas for Bud Light. I was there for three years and learned all the behind the scenes work that goes into small and large scale advertising and marketing programs. I grew tremendously while I was there and left with a big skill set and strong portfolio. It also set me up to appreciate the agility of small creative groups working collaboratively.

I moved up to New York in 2008. There were two main reasons. One was I had a lot of friends who had moved here. Terrance Clark and Will Staley (both KCAI design alumni) had an open room in their apartment in Brooklyn and, after visiting twice and having an amazing time, I knew I would have a richer and more robust social life. The second reason was because I thought there was a lot of opportunity to grow and explore my career path. A few weeks after moving here I realized that great creativity and great work can happen anywhere. My first job was at big ad agency on Madison Avenue. I became disillusioned to the New York ad scene after seeing how old and stagnant the traditional model is. But a few good things came out of that first experience- my fiance and my first Facebook app. I went on to one more agency before getting out of advertising completely. Advertising and marketing is the business of promoting other peoples products. I wanted to get on the side of CREATING products. In 2010 I was unemployed for several months while looking for a job in the tech industry– my senior thesis was web-based design and I’ve always been interested in designing interactive experiences. I applied through an online job board and got brought in for an interview by OMGPOP. Initially I was contracted for freelance design then after a couple of weeks was extended a full-time position. The rest is history. I got to work learning about game design and dove feet first into mobile, bringing my past experience and skill set with me.

How did your education at KCAI influence you during this time?
All those tools I was prepared with while in school- creative problem solving, presenting, adapting to new skills and environments were responsible for my ability to develop and grow in each industry I worked in.


How were you involved in development of the Draw Something app?
I was the lead designer on the app. A small team and I worked to create the game in about six months while juggling several other IPs and projects. The game was originally based on OMGPOP’s Draw My Thing, which was a flash based social game housed on Facebook and our homepage OMGPOP.COM, but it changed quite drastically as we worked to make it as fun an experience as possible on a mobile platform.

Where do you see your career going from here?
I thrive on creating things that reach large audiences and affect culture. And I love social technology. I also know that great things come out of small, talented, collaborative groups of people. So I’ll continue to follow opportunity where ever it may be in order to create things that leave a positive ding in the universe. Several years ago it was advertising, now it’s social games, a few years from now … who knows?!

Have you stayed in touch with many KCAI alumni/ faculty?
Yeah, I just had lunch with Tyler Galloway. Of course Facebook does a good job of keeping everyone within reach. There are a ton of KCAI alumni up here in New York and some of my best friends are people I met while at KCAI.

When was the last time you were back on campus?
May 2012, walking around with my fiancée and her family. We’re getting married across the street at the Simpson house this fall!


Do you have a favorite memory to share from your time at KCAI?
Time in studio was always a funny juxtaposition of stress and hijinks. First Fridays back when there were free kegs and wine everywhere were great. Most of my favorite memories from the time are the friendships and social interactions that formed.

Any advice or suggestions for younger alumni out there?
Get internships in the industry you think you want to work in. Don’t hesitate to try a lot of things. Be competitive, but don’t be an ass hat. Partner up with positive and supportive people. And there’s not always a definite and clear path for your future, so be open to change but follow your intuition.

Any parting words?
Just one –– My favorite saying. “The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.” I think it represents working smarter, not harder. But it may be an excuse to wake up later than 90 percent of the world.

4.-Graphic-design-1978Image: Graphic design class of 1978

Recent Alumni Gathering: Denver

@ February 8, 2012


The alumni relations office recently returned from a fine gathering of KCAI graduates that currently live and work in and around Denver. Dr. Jacqueline Chanda, the newly inaugurated 23rd president of KCAI, and Eric Dobbins, the new director of alumni relations, were joined for food, drink, conversation and entertainment with an excellent collection of alumni, friends and family.


We were hosted by HINTERLAND, an art space in the RINO Art District, equipped with a wood burning fire place to keep us all cozy. Many thanks to our hosts Sabin & Randy! The RINO Art District itself was originally put on the map by the creation of Ironton, one of the first galleries in the area. Ironton was created by KCAI’s very own Jill Hadley Hooper (’86 design).


The entertainment for the evening was found in PechaKucha presentations by four of our alumni: Lynn Bush, Michael Gault, Carl Stewart and Tracy Pollner.

Lynn Bush (’02 painting)

Michael Gault (’76 painting)

Carl Stewart (’82 ceramics)

Tracy Pollner (’80 design)

Rooted in the theme “Where have you been since then?”, the audience found itself exploring a part of each artist’s journey since graduating from KCAI. We learned of their inspiration, visited their studio space and were offered a sneak peek of some current work.


The PechaKucha format was very well received, and we anticipate an even greater number of presenters the next time we are in Denver. Another option on the table: alumni studio tour by bus!


Many thanks to all that came out, and spent some time in discussion with Dr. Chanda and I. We’re greatly looking forward to our next trip out to Colorado! Til then everybody!

Upcoming Regional Alumni Gatherings:

Seattle: March 29 | The Hideout | In conjunction with NCECA

New York: April 19 | Venue TBD

San Francisco: May 17 | Venue TBD | In conjunction with the Warwick Society

Los Angeles: July 12 | Venue TBD

Boston: TBD

St. Louis: TBD

Dallas: TBD

Houston: TBD

If you’d like to be involved in any of the upcoming regional gatherings, email us at alumni@kcai.edu

Lynn Bush

Q&A with Anna Buckthorpe (’08 art history and sculpture)

@ October 31, 2011

Below is Q&A with alumna Anna Buckthorpe regarding her unusual work in the medical field. Thank you for sharing, Anna!

1) What is your occupation and what does it entail?

My official job title is Certified Eye Bank Technician and staff trainer. What that entails is recovering surgical quality corneas from the recently deceased and ensuring that the donors we procure from are free of any conditions that could put our recipients at risk, i.e. HIV, hep C or B, and numerous other infections diseases. To that end before I can actually cut the corneas out I have to go through the donor’s complete medical chart looking for anything indicating that something is amiss and examine the donor’s entire body for physical signs of conditions that would preclude transplant. After all of this is done I draw a blood sample for testing and remove the corneas surgically. I also teach new employees how to do this, what to look for on a donor, and participate in the hiring process. As you can imagine we get some very colorful applicants.

2) How did you become interested in doing this job and what is your favorite part about it? Least favorite?

I heard about the job initially from my sister who was working in the administrative branch. As soon as she told me about it I was fascinated and decided to apply. At first I was very unsure of my chances at getting the job, not having a background in medicine or science, but as it turns out that wasn’t an issue at all. Eye Banking is such an obscure and unique field that there really aren’t any degrees or training programs to prepare people for employment in the field. As a discipline it also requires a fairly broad range of skills, from basic arithmetic to extreme manual dexterity and the ability to handle high stress situations without losing your cool. There are a lot of things that I really love about my job; it’s very exciting, I never know from one day to the next whether I’ll be in the lab looking at tissue through a microscope or whether I’ll be scrubbing into an OR with an organ recovery team. I am also constantly learning new things about the body and medical conditions, which keeps things interesting. No two donors are ever the same so I never worry about getting bored. It also keeps me motivated to take care of myself, lest I end up a donor. Of course there are also down sides. We recover tissue from ages 2-75, so when I get cases involving children it can be very hard emotionally. People also don’t generally schedule their deaths during regular business hours, so I may be called at 2am and not end up getting any sleep. It’s also a very high stress/high pressure job. We are frequently under time constraints and corneas are extremely delicate and require great care and skill to procure without damaging the tissue.

3) How does your background as an artist intersect with this work?

As I touched on earlier, the diverse skills required to be proficient at my job have made my fine arts back ground very useful. As an artist, my work is extremely detailed and meticulous. The fine motor skills and attention to detail I honed during my years at KCAI are absolutely invaluable to me in my job. Likewise the research skills I developed as an art history major have prepared me for the medical charts I now must pour through. Just like how there may be only one paragraph  in a particular text that is relevant to one’s research paper, there may be only one line in a 400 page medical chart that is the difference between procuring surgical quality tissue and tissue that could put a transplant recipient at risk for very serious complications. As a student at KCAI you also learn how to improvise and work with what you have; this flexibility helps me deal with the less than ideal conditions I find on some of our donors.

4) It seems that your are not squeamish. Have you always had a strong stomach or did you acquire that trait?

I have never really been a sqeamish person. I certainly wouldn’t have made it very far in my line of work if I was. That being said, people who die are dead for a reason and it’s generally not because they are in tip-top shape and perfect health. Some times dealing with the very harsh realities of what happens to a body when someone dies are not exactly appetite inducing. As a staff trainer I am frequently with our new employees on their first cases, which helps me stay grounded. And at this point I have seen enough bodies and different types of death to be very comfortable around our donors, no matter their condition.

5) What is the strangest or funniest reaction  you’ve received when you tell people about your job?

People’s reactions are always very amusing. Many people don’t know that there are eye banks, and take me to be in the financial sector. I always take great pleasure in correcting them. As a general rule people are either very interested or completely appalled. But they are nearly all curious. I recently had a nurse pass out while observing the recovery procedure. It was on a donor who bled quite profusely during the recovery, which can be a very unsettling sight for those unaccustomed to dealing with it. It’s also not unusual for new trainees to wretch and occasionally vomit early on in the training. But once you get used to it, you know you can pretty much see anything and deal with it.
Over-all it’s an extremely stimulating and rewarding line of work. And knowing that just by doing a job I love proficiently I am helping to save a stranger’s eyesight is incredible. Occasionally we get letters from recipients about how their transplant has affected their life, which makes even the hardest cases more than worth the effort. And it gives me real sense of gratitude for my own good health and fortune.

Creative writing piece by Anne Fewell (’62 painting)

@ April 27, 2011
The Master, R.V.R.
This is how he came to power as one of the greatest artists of all time, an artist who could bring life to his creations as if they would talk from the canvas he created them on. I was the first one privileged to see him mounting his brightest star and carry it to where it, never fell – his creations, that is. For him in his identity as a mortal man – well, that’s another tale in which all reasons will reveal themselves.
And how and when did this star begin to rise that has never fallen but 400 years later continues to inspire and awe those who view and participate in his creations – his paintings, drawings and etchings? And why was I the first to witness this brilliant seed blossom into a continously unfolding flower, culminating into a high aesthetic power that permeated earth with its spiritual beauty?
I was brought into being with his decision to be a great artist. With that decision I sparked into his universe and have never left – as his muse, an amused muse, bent to share in the playing of his life of all good and bad and in between. I suppose you could say one of my duties was to occasionally tease him with thoughts he would think his own and start to create upon them. And I would generate certain emotions – the whole scale of them – just to make it interesting. I should make the point that in this journey, I maintained constant amusement through the good and the bad. After all, that is also part of my job.
So he made the decision. That answers “how” this star began to rise. When? It’s not that important at the moment, but it was a while ago. Let’s say it was a lifetime in a place called Holland, mostly Amsterdam. Sometimes dreary, sometimes drab and depressing with streams of joy trickling through when you could grab them.
As a child brought up by a family of meager means (his father was a miller) he exhibited a high interest and fascination of everything around him, but mostly of people. Old people with wrinkled faces, noses with warts, sunken eyes, scraggly hair under worn-out hats – all kinds peaked a passion of interest. He began sketching on any kind of paper he could find which he kept loose in a spot by his bed. He loved the look of the landscape, especially in the mist or rain, with far-off trees or bridges with houses dotting around. He sketched his mother and father, bringing their spirits alive on paper. He sketched with an energy of not only the young but as a being with a mission.
One sunny April day, as a teenager, he sat in a corner mending some bags inside his father’s windmill. When he finished he looked up and watched rats that had been captured and rustling around in wire nets hanging from the loft. The light through the small windows above showed slightly hazy light in the air surrounding the hanging cages. The air was different in color on each of the sides and behind and in front, whereupon he realized that everything has an “air or light” around it and that perhaps all this space, all this air really has a color and could be possible to translate that color into terms of paint. But from that moment in his father’s mill he was convinced that every object in the world is surrounded by a substance of light or air or space or call it whatever you like, which somehow or other it must be possible to express in terms of light and shade and a half a dozen primary colors. He considered he was a mathematician who works in vegetable matter and who started out with a formula and who is now trying to prove that it works and that it is correct. Yet, what he wanted to know before he died is how did he happen to get those effects, how did he happen to create those effects using paint…i.e. that man is actually sitting on a chair in a room, not leaning up against a mere background of chair and room. Anyone can learn to paint things that are there. But to paint the things that one merely suspects to be there is the sort of task that makes life interesting.
His perceptions were keen and clear. He would not only see the surface of a person or object or vista, but would permeate through, seeking the soul of what was there. He had said that nothing counts in the world except the inner spirit of things, meaning the immortal soul of everything that was ever created – tables and chairs and cats and dogs and houses and ships. But only about three or four, maybe five, in every hundred would understand that and the others who don’t “will let us starve to death.” From this, one could see he “knew” in the truest sense but at the time perhaps didn’t understand the breadth of his power.
Through the years he realized there were those who were not cognizant of the greatness of his work and others who would take advantage of him and tried to pay him almost nothing. Most of the wealthy bourgoise were vain in the extreme and were upset to find their portraits “unflattering” due to his painting them as they really were and so suffered rejections. They couldn’t see the spirit in things and so didn’t have a clue what they were seeing when they saw his work of them. Still, through word of mouth and meeting people in the pubs and on walks and so forth, he flourished as a painter for several years as a younger man. He loved dressing in costumes and dressing his wife or other models in costumes for paintings. He spent hours finding used and old things like helmets, velvet clothing, satins, furs, jewelry, tankards, feathered hats — all for his pleasure of playing and mocking up paintings. These were his happiest times. Oh, and I had something to do with that, too.
He said “I get interested in a subject. I see or rather I feel a lot of things others don’t see or don’t feel. I put them into my picture and the man who sat for his portrait and considered himself a fine fellow gets angry, says the likeness is not there or I have given him a look in his eyes that will prove to his neighbors that he is a miser or mean to his wife, and in the end he either refuses the picture or he will offer to pay me half of what he promised. And many people are hoping to say ‘he has lost something in his pep and stamina’. And what they mean of course is that I am beginning to paint them as they are and no longer as they want to think that they are.”
While musing, I have noticed that there is a false idea floating in cultures about artists and that is that they should “suffer” and “suffer for their art”. And some artists, being so intent on creating and painting beauty into their work, pay little attention to money and things of survival for their bodies because creating is itself outside of the “real” universe where the artists’ genius lives. Unfortunately, there are those who don’t understand this and have become so imbedded and fixed into the money, that it makes them blind as to the true value of the art they see and so take advantage of that aspect in some artists, When they commission or purchase an artist’s creation, that aesthetic will be with them far longer – even a lifetime – and give them and those viewing it more pleasure than what was spent. That aesthetic just doesn’t hang on a wall, it permeates the space it is in. Take it away and see what the room feels like. In this way, an artist’s suffering can be created by the bourgoise, whether intentional or not. At any rate that kind of thinking can stifle support of the artist in any culture and has for centuries. The more the artist is supported the more cultures come alive and flourish. Imagine if there were no art anywhere, no aesthetic to sooth souls – how dead would it be. Artists inject life into cultures and so need support to continue injecting that life.
I watched him through his hardships. He had absolutely no understanding of the value of money, died bankrupt and had paintings rejected. But he maintained his integrity of painting what he saw and ignored any hints that he should do otherwise. As he said, “Painting is seeing.” And he could truly “see” more than was physically apparent.
Moreover, even though he may not have been totally cognizant of the fact at that time, he could perceive the spirit of a subject and communicate it in his work. He injected life into his work. And even though he had said he didn’t know how he did what he did, that was and is his power. And that is the Master, R.V.R, Rembrandt van Rijn.
Respectfully and Amusedly Offered, The Master’s Muse 8/31/10
(c) Anne Fewell 2010. All Rights Reserved

Memories from Judith Thompson (’65 painting)

@ December 22, 2010

Give us three words you would use to describe your time at the Art Institute (and why) :
Professional, stimulating, exceptional.

The professor or course that most affected your work (and why):
Wilbur Niewald was so instrumental in my education.  I am 70 now and still my passion is painting and he helped to instill that in me.  He is such a caring individual.

The most important thing a faculty member ever said to you and under what circumstances it was said:
Eleanor Dequoin “look at the negative spaces.” I had never “seen” a negative space, and it was such a positive lesson.

The best class or project you ever participated in:
Architectural Design with Ted Seligson, building a chair out of cardboard only that could hold a 200 pound person.  I kept my chair for years.

The course was the most challenging and why:
Painting.  Niewald took a palette knife out of my hand and taught me what a brush had to say.

One lesson that you learned at KCAI that still guides your career:
They praised your abilities and it has lasted for many years.

Tell us which classmates were your best friends and how you’ve kept in touch since college:
Leland Wallin and Deanna Nichols.

Favorite hang-out on-campus:
The grounds of the Nelson Gallery, just talking about painting and life.

Tell us about the moment that you truly knew that you were an

My father said when I was 7 years old and would sleep walk to my desk, where I drew.

One moment here at KCAI that you will remember for the rest of your life:
Having the best instructors in my life.  The chance to grow and learn and become the best I could.

The hardest lesson:
Was late for a 2-D class once and was locked out.  Ouch.

Other special memories:
Having Bill McKim as a printmaking teacher.  I was so fortunate with so many great instructors.

Memories from Patricia Stegman (’74 painting)


Give us three words you would use to describe your time at the Art Institute (and why) :

The professor or course that most affected your work (and why):

Life drawing with Mary Fife and painting and drawing with Vincent Campanella

The most important thing a faculty member ever said to you and under what circumstances it was said:
I couldn’t narrow it down to one statement. Important, however, was the knowledge that one must follow ones own path; and search to reveal it.

The best class or project you ever participated in:
Life drawing in the old greenhouse was a special experience: I loved Robert Blunk’s description of the check mark she gave “like a Papal Blessing” (when she wanted a drawing to display)! Such a moving description! Thank you Mr. Blunk!

The course was the most challenging and why:
One lesson that you learned at KCAI that still guides your career:
Be true to your own character and aesthetic desires….

Tell us which classmates were your best friends and how you’ve kept in touch since college:
Diana Shirley Blair, who is now married to Heinz Buchholz and lives in Germany. I visited her last in October 2009. Her 1st husband was Reldon Blair who was a student at KCAI with us.  I stay in touch with Diana by mail, phone and actual visits to Germany.

Your college sweetheart:
Not one…I dated Jack Henderson; Jim Innes; and Fred Reichart(all fellow students) kept in touch with Jim and Fred until their departures from this earth last year. Henderson won every prize in the book, studied in Paris & Rome, and then taught at Art Students League & in Philadelphia. He died several years ago.

Tell us about the moment that you truly knew that you were an artist/designer:
I already knew when I came to KCAI. That’s why I came!

One moment here at KCAI that you will remember for the rest of your life:
That’s too personal to tell!!

Other special memories:
The Beaux Arts Ball — we worked so hard and long on our costumes we almost missed the party!

Memories from Robin Taffler (’77 printmaking)

@ December 2, 2010

I had extraordinary experiences as a student at KCAI, and I have lifelong friends from my days there. Dale Eldred brought in Andrew Leicester for our final critiques my senior year. Prior to my critique Dale and Jim Leedy pulled me aside to tell me they wouldn’t be present for my critique. No worries. ( I worked in large scale as a student and built a playground north of the city.) With each slide I projected, Andrew Leicester TORE into me, in a way that stunned me. He went after me until I was in tears. Dale and Jim had entered at the end of the critique unbeknownst to me. When it was over Dale pulled me aside and explained that they had a non-negotiable meeting to attend and then asked me what happened. I could barely talk, so my friends explained on my behalf.

Dale pulled Leicester over and went nuts on the guy. He said, “She is one of the best students I ever had, you are insecure, don’t dare treat any of our students in that way.” You had to know Dale was fuming. He told me the reason they put me in the critique order they did knowing that he nor Jim would be accessible was because I no longer needed them. I was on my own and I was one student they didn’t worry about. That was the day I knew I was an artist. Dale picked me up and hugged me and said I was good to go!  “Off with you, you no longer need us here!”

Best class project: The first day in sculpture. Dale taught me how to operate the boom truck. Next day we went to the quarry. He had me operate the truck and load up all these rocks. (He was nearby, off at my side.) I do remember those huge, paw-like hands covering mine and his showing me how to ease a big load onto the bed of the truck. All of my friends were like, “Why does she get to do this?” Dale kept asking us to hurry up. Turns out we were stealing rocks from the quarry and he figured I, all of five ft. and 98 lbs., wouldn’t get in trouble as he would! We left just as we were about to get caught. Rocks and cement: Those were our first pieces as new sophomores in sculpture. It was a blast, I was hooked, and eventually I bought my own cement mixer.

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