Kansas City Art Institute to create murals for Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts

3 February 2010

KANSAS CITY, MO. (Feb. 3, 2010) — A group of Kansas City Art Institute students, supervised by members of the KCAI faculty, has begun work on a project to design and paint murals at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. Funding is being provided by the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation. The murals are to be completed in time for the center’s opening in fall 2011. 

Kathleen Collins, president of KCAI, said the college was pleased and honored to be selected for the project and that students selected to work on it will never forget the experience.
“This is really a once-in-a-lifetime experience for them to be involved with a world-renowned architect on a project that will become iconic for Kansas City,” Collins said. “This is an opportunity for community involvement at the highest level. We are enormously grateful to the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation for this unprecedented opportunity.”
Collins said the idea to involve students from KCAI, a four-year college of art and design currently celebrating its 125th anniversary, came from Moshe Safdie, the architect for the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. Meetings were held in 2009, and late last year the decision was made to proceed.
“I thought it would be very exciting to get the students involved in the creation of the performance space, and I am looking forward to a creative collaboration with them,” Safdie said.
Mark Salmon, Ph.D., vice president for academic affairs at KCAI, said the murals will be designed within the context of a course being offered this spring in the college’s painting department. Sixteen students, individually selected for this project, will work on the murals. Ten of the students are painting majors and six are majoring in graphic design. The students will paint the murals at the Kauffman Center over the summer.
In addition to the 16 students who will design and paint the murals, KCAI has hired one of its long-standing part-time faculty members, Dan Reneau, to serve as project manager. Full-time faculty member Chris Chapin, chair of the college’s graphic design department, is serving as a consultant to the class in which the designs will be created. 
The murals will be painted in the Proscenium Theater, one of the performance venues within the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. The Proscenium Theater will have 24 box seat areas, and the murals will be painted on the walls at the back of the box seats facing out into the theater. Plans call for the murals to be painted before seating is installed. 
“The colors will be chosen with reference not only to the seating fabrics and other interior surface colors, but also in terms of the interior lighting, which will impact how the colors in the murals will actually look,” Salmon said. “In general, the colors will center on reds and other warm colors.”
Salmon said the design direction and color references came from the architect, who met with representatives from KCAI to discuss the design direction.
While emphasizing that the design has not yet been developed, Salmon said that the general design direction is that each mural must function on its own yet also must be closely coordinated with the overall, integrated mural design scheme.
“There needs to be a general sense of ‘directionality’ to the overall integrated mural design that moves the eye from the back of the theater toward the front and, in a general way, addresses the vertical dimensions of the theater,” he said.
Salmon said the murals will vary in size, ranging from about 8 feet high by 10 feet wide to 12 or 14 feet high by 15 feet wide.
“On top of the murals will be horizontal wooden slats with spaces between them to help baffle the floor level lights at the base of the mural walls and to help protect the walls and the murals themselves,” he said.
 “The architect will review the design proposals the students create and will select the final set of designs that emerge through an iterative design approval process,” Salmon said.
About the Kansas City Art Institute
Founded in 1885, the Kansas City Art Institute is a private, independent four-year college of art and design awarding the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with majors in animation, art history, ceramics, digital filmmaking, fiber, graphic design, interdisciplinary arts, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture and studio art with an emphasis on creative writing. KCAI also hosts “Current Perspectives,” a free public lecture series; free exhibitions at the H&R Block Artspace gallery; and evening, weekend and summer classes in art, design, multimedia studies and desktop publishing for children, youth and adults. For more information, visit KCAI on the Web at www.kcai.edu.

Contact: Anne Canfield, 816-802-3426 or acanfield@kcai.edu