New building expands fabric of KCAI campus

1 May 2012

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (May 1, 2012) — Bursting at the seams with a record number of students, the Kansas City Art Institute has acquired a 10,000-square-foot warehouse at 4218 Walnut St., adjacent to the H&R Block Artspace at KCAI and will renovate it this summer to accommodate the college’s popular fiber program.
“Students majoring in fiber have been working in several studios sprinkled throughout the campus, and this will allow the program an opportunity to consolidate under one roof,” said Jacqueline Chanda, president of KCAI.
“Since 1997, enrollment in the fiber department has been steadily growing,” said Pauline Verbeek-Cowart, professor and chair of the program. “For us, consolidating all of our classes and studios in this new building means much more than just knowing where we are physically. It represents a new beginning, an opportunity to shape our identity and to further expand on the existing curriculum. We have one of the best equipped fiber programs in the nation, and it seems fitting for us to now house it under one roof and maximize its potential.”
Describing the fiber program as “inherently multi-disciplinary,” Verbeek-Cowart noted that students majoring in fiber cross boundaries between art, design, craft and technology.
“The field of fiber encompasses painting, printing, dyeing, pattern design, sewing, quilting, garment construction for fashion and costume, weaving, knitting, crochet, basketry techniques, felting, spinning and papermaking,” she said. “Fiber artists are exploring sustainable practices, and a resurgence of craft and technological advances are expanding the field into social practice as well as architectural, interactive, electronic and smart textiles.”
Located in the new space will be a dye-kitchen, print tables, computer lab/resource room, paper-making facility and a variety of floor looms, including a recently acquired, fully computerized Jacquard loom. Students also will have access to a sewing studio equipped with industrial as well as Bernina sewing machines and sergers, dressforms, digital embroidery machines and knitting machines.
The building was previously owned by Kansas City Properties Inc. and most recently had been leased for storage by American Century.
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.
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Contact: Anne Canfield, 816-802-3426 or