KCI Public Art Selection Process Takes Another Step Forward with Naming of Diverse Panel

KCAI proposed interior

Image: courtesy of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM)

With an eye toward diversity and inclusion, the first public art selection panel for the Kansas City International Airport single terminal project has been chosen by the Municipal Art Commission (MAC).

The panelists are:
Bill Gautreaux, art collector
Bruce Hartman, executive director and chief curator, Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art
Cory Imig, artist, arts administrator and founding member of PLUG Projects
Christina Albu, art history faculty at University of Missouri-Kansas City
Debby Ballard, former director of community affairs at Sprint and former president of the Sprint Foundation
Carmeletta Williams, executive director, Black Archives of Mid-America
Erin Dziedzic, director of curatorial affairs, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art
Jean Schmitt, assistant professor, Kansas City Art Institute
Julián Zugazagoitia, director and CEO, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
Maurice Watson, trustee, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
Saralyn Reece Hardy, director, Spencer Museum of Art
Sean O’Harrow, executive director, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art
Sara Sonié Joi Thompson-Ruffin, artist and founder of the African American Artists Collective
Consuelo Cruz (alternate), marketing and community engagement manager, Belger Arts Center
Renee Cinderhouse (alternate), artist
Tony Jones (alternate), president, Kansas City Art Institute
Tracy Abeln (alternate), journalist, former editor at “Review Magazine”

The panelists, chosen by MAC at a special meeting Nov. 13, will select art for the first four locations that have been announced. They are the Check-in Hall Ceiling, Escalator to Baggage Claim, Retail Node A and Retail Node B. The call for artists for those locations is open for artists at www.callforentry.org through Dec. 6.

For each commission, two arts professionals and one community organization member from the list will work alongside a core team that will serve on all four locations. The core team will include Kansas City Public Art Administrator James Martin, MAC representatives, and representatives from the Kansas City Aviation Department.

This “Heat Map” shows the locations and costs of artworks to be commissioned for KCI under Kansas City’s One Percent for Art program. (Build KCI)

“On each selection panel there are three people serving from the community who are new to the project and four people serving who are already familiar with the project,” Martin said in an email to “KC Studio.”

Additional panels (consisting of panelists not yet named) will be convened for additional locations at the reconfigured KCI, as calls for artists for those locations are announced. The process is expected to continue through May 2021 or so, Martin said. “For the ‘second rollout’

(Winter 2020), 16 new panelists will be needed,” he said. “The number of panelists needed for the third and final rollout in the spring has not been determined yet.”

“One of the main reasons that we are having so many selection panels and panelists is to ensure that the selection panels are diverse and inclusive,” Martin said. “The typical public art wisdom would recommend one selection panel for the entire project. That does not equate with the public demand for diversity, equity and inclusion. The ‘core team’ of panelists that will serve on every location can help foster cohesion where it’s needed, keeping in mind that the facility is so large that only a few works of art will be viewable within the same space.”

The $1.5 billion project, now under construction, will convert KCI to a single-terminal facility. Based on the $565 million vertical construction cost, which includes a new parking garage, the city’s One Percent for Art program calls for about $5.65 million to fund public art at the reconfigured airport, constituting the largest public art project in Kansas City history. The new terminal is expected to be completed in 2023.

Julius Karash

Julius A. Karash is a freelance writer, editor and public relations person. He formerly was a business reporter for the Kansas City Star and executive editor of KC Business magazine. He devours business and economic news, and is keenly interested in the relationship between arts and economic development in the Kansas City area.

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