A.I.R.: Belger’s Essential Element

Artist residencies play a pivotal role in the development of an artist’s work and career. For some, a residency is an opportunity to develop a professional studio practice outside of academia. For others, residencies provide the necessary space and time to experiment with new ideas, develop a new body of work, connect or collaborate with other artists.

Space to Breathe

Red Star Artist-in-Residency (A.I. R.) program, led by Tommy Frank, is the creative energy that fuels Belger Crane Yard Studios. Since 2000, 34 artists have participated in this nationally recognized program that is committed to providing ceramic artists with exceptional facilities to further expand their artistic vision and foster community connections.

Foundation Residents are selected through a competitive application process and are awarded studio space as well as opportunities to teach and exhibit for a one- to two-year period. More established artists, such as Jana Evans, are Career Residents who provide leadership through mentoring and additional teaching responsibilities. By working alongside Belger Crane Yard Studios’ studio members and teaching many of the educational programs at Belger Arts Center, this blend of residents ensures a vibrant and productive community studio environment.

Belger expanded its A.I.R. program to include short-term residencies for nationally and internationally acclaimed artists in 2012. Fellowship Residents such as Ilona Romula (Latvia), Isadora Cuellar (Mexico), and Paolo Porelli (Italy), travel to Kansas City for intense periods of creative incubation. Studio members enjoy the unique experience of observing “rock star” artists at work, learning from their techniques, concepts, and aesthetics. Because outreach is an essential component of the A.I. R. program, each Fellowship Resident shares his or her work with the community through lectures, workshops, exhibitions, or other public events.

The Corner Studio

While Tommy Frank and the resident artists ensure that Belger Crane Yard Studios hums busily along, another studio tenant provides an underlying, professional presence. Cary Esser, Chair of the Ceramics Department of the Kansas City Art Institute, took up residence at Belger Crane Yard Studios in 2015. While not involved in the day-to-day activities of the program, Esser brings her wealth of experience, rigorous work ethic, and technical virtuosity to the studio — valuable resources for all who work in the space.

Better Together

This summer, Belger celebrates the achievements of its resident artists with the exhibition “Better Together” on display at Belger Crane Yard Studios through August 6. The diversity of objects reflects the artistic range of this 2015-2016 residency group. Functional ceramic vessels by Jana Evans and Holly Siggelow-Dyer demonstrate their mastery of traditional processes, while similar works by Brice Dyer reveal a more unconventional approach. An interest in storytelling unites the work of sculptors Maura Wright, Hiromi Iyoda and Christina Erives, who employ imagery from various cultures to convey their unique visions of the world.

As the exhibition title suggests, the residents are “better” for the time they’ve spent learning from and teaching one another. By creating a strong, arts-driven community, both Belger and Kansas City are better as well. With each year of the A.I.R. program, our collective of artists, innovators, and educators grows — and this growth is an essential element to the future achievements and vitality of arts in Kansas City.

–Kelly Seward

Above: Red Star A.I.R. Class of 2016: Brice Dyer, Holly Siggelow-Dyer, Christina Erives, Hiromi Iyoda, Jana Evans, Maura Wright, and Tommy Frank (Studio Manager). Photo courtesy of Belger Crane Yard Studios

Better Together

Belger - Hiromi Iyoda - King Kong

June 3 — August 6
Belger Crane Yard Gallery

Featuring sculptural and functional ceramics by 2016 Red Star Artists-in-Residents Christina Erives, Jana Evans, Brice Dyer, Hiromi Iyoda, Holly Siggelow-Dyer and Maura Wright.

CategoriesArts Consortium

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