Editor’s Letter, July/August 2024

KC Studio editor Alice Thorson, photo by Mark Berndt.

This past spring, many were riveted by the testimony of Stormy Daniels in the “hush-money” trial of former President Donald Trump, from which the adult film star emerged as an unlikely feminist icon in her refusal to be bullied.

In Kansas City, a major retrospective at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art celebrates another strong, unconventional, not-to-be-dominated woman. Drawn from the extensive holdings of the Museum of Modern Art in Nice, France, the exhibit “Niki de Saint Phalle: Rebellion and Joy” showcases the postwar Franco-American artist’s unique vision and independent spirit, from her early gunshot paintings to her irrepressible Nana sculptures honoring the power and strength of women.

Women artists take center stage in our summer issue, including our coverage of the expertly curated collection of top KC women artists now on permanent view at the CPKC Stadium. We mark a milestone with our report on the 70th anniversary of the woman-dominated Weavers Guild of Greater Kansas City, whose diverse output can be seen this summer at the Johnson County Arts and Heritage Center. And we celebrate a first with our profile of Melissa Ferrer Civil, recently appointed as the first Kansas City Poet Laureate.

Poignant and personal, Victoria Hernandez’s “Your Feelings Are Valid” series was a highlight of the Society for Contemporary Photography’s “Current Works 2022” exhibit at the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center, where April Watson, senior curator of photography at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, included Hernandez’s work among the 26 pieces she chose out of 240 submissions. We are pleased to delve deeper into this talented and driven young photographer’s work in the current issue’s Artist Pages. Another coup for a Kansas City photographer is the publication of a new book by Deanna Dikeman, whose “Relative Moments” adds to an impressive career that has garnered national and international attention.

Women are also making their mark at KC’s leading cultural institutions, where Jennifer Roe joins Folk Alliance International and Jennifer Montgomery joins Kansas City Young Audiences as their new executive directors. And recently, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art announced the expansion of its curatorial ranks with the appointment of Tahnee Ahtone as curator, Native American art, and Rachel Kabukala as associate curator, African art. In the theater world, actor and director Katie Gilchrist heads up a unique summer offering, the 1994projectkc, featuring local musicians and performers revisiting that year’s music and films in a curated series at The Black Box. Women are also a driving force in the local resurgence of independent bookstores, as chronicled in this issue’s Julius Karash Business and the Arts column.

This summer’s not-to-be-missed events include the debut of KC sound designer Tom Mardike’s groundbreaking Sound Mandala as part of the KC Fringe Festival and the annual Creative Intersections dance performance at the Pilgrim Labyrinth & Butterfly Garden in Hyde Park. If you have time for a trip, let Brian Hearn’s roundup of Oklahoma cultural attractions be your guide. A must-see is Tulsa’s Greenwood Rising Museum — headed by Raymond Doswell, formerly of Kansas City’s Negro Leagues Baseball Museum— which tells the story of the once-thriving district decimated by the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.

And as trips go, we wish the Kansas City Symphony all the best as they embark on their first European tour under new artistic director Matthias Pintscher.

Alice Thorson

Alice Thorson is the editor of KC Studio. She has written about the visual arts for numerous publications locally and nationally.

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