KCAI alumnus Kurt Weiser named one of 50 USA Fellows

21 January 2013
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Jan. 21, 2013) —Kurt Weiser, who graduated from the Kansas City Art Institute in 1972 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in ceramics, was named a 2012 United States Artists Fellow in December. The award from the United States Artists Foundation carries an unrestricted $50,000 grant.
Weiser is the fourth graduate of the KCAI ceramics program to be named a USA Fellow. The others are Akio Takamori (’76 ceramics), who received the award in 2011; Richard Notkin (’70 ceramics), in 2008; and Sarah Jaeger (’85 ceramics), in 2006.
Each year 50 of the fellowships are awarded to the nation’s finest artists in areas encompassing crafts and traditional arts, theater arts, dance, music, architecture and design, visual arts, literature and media. In 2012, 438 artists were nominated for the prestigious fellowship.
Weiser is Regents’ Professor of Ceramics in the Arizona State University School of Art in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.
“Students and fellow faculty know well the talent and dedication of Professor Kurt Weiser as an artist and teacher,’’ said Adriene Jenik, director of the ASU School of Art, in an announcement posted on the school’s website. “To have him acknowledged as one of the finest artists in the country, alongside other luminaries in a spectrum of creative practices, reminds us of the honor we have to be working alongside and learning from him.”
Although Weiser told ASU officials that he hasn’t decided exactly how he will spend the fellowship, he expects to use the money toward his art.
“It’s an odd sort of mix of freedom and security to be able to do what I’ve thought about doing and haven’t had the nerve,” Weiser said about receiving the grant. “I feel so very fortunate.’’
According to ASU, Weiser plans to complete a project for an exhibition at the Boston Museum of Fine Art. After that he said for the first time he could consider hiring people to help him with his latest artistic endeavor: making ceramic globes of the world mounted on elegant custom bronze stands. He also intends to use part of the money to expand his studio in Montana, where he spends his summers.
United States Artists was created with $22 million in seed money from such prominent foundations as Ford, Rockefeller, Prudential and Rasmuson to elevate the status of artists with sizeable, unrestricted grants. Since the first fellowships were given, United States Artists has awarded $17.5 million in grants to 365 of the nation’s top artists, according to Debra Dysart, director of development operations. Other donors, including the Windgate Charitable Foundation that funded Weiser’s fellowship, also have stepped up to support the program.
This year’s fellows include emerging, mid-career and established artists from 19 states who were chosen based on their expertise in the art form they practice and the impact they could have in their field, explained Dysart. The rigorous selection process begins with artists and experts chosen as nominators by the organization in each of the eight arts categories. The nominators recommend artists who are in turn asked to complete applications. Panels of artists and experts then review those applications and award the fellowships.
Weiser is one of six honored in the crafts and traditional arts category. For more information about the program, visit www.usafellows.org.
About the Kansas City Art Institute
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, digital media, fiber, graphic design, illustration, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture and studio art with an emphasis on creative writing. The college also offers certificate programs in Community Arts and Service Learning and in Asian Studies for students enrolled in the B.F.A. program. KCAI 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. Founded in 1885, KCAI is Kansas City’s oldest arts organization. For more information, visit KCAI on the Web at www.kcai.edu.
Contact: Anne Canfield, 816-802-3426 or acanfield@kcai.edu