Noted artist to address 2010 KCAI graduates, commencement audience

14 April 2010

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (April 14, 2010) — Kerry James Marshall, known for large-scale paintings, sculptures and other objects that take African-American life and history as their subject matter, has been named the Kansas City Art Institute’s 2010 commencement speaker. Commencement ceremonies will be held at 2 p.m. May 15 at the Unity Temple on the Plaza, 707 W. 47th St.

Kerry James Marshall was born in 1955 in Birmingham, Ala., and was educated at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles, from which he received a B.F.A. degree in 1978 and an honorary doctorate in 1999. In 1997, he received a MacArthur Fellowship “genius” grant.

The subject matter of his paintings, installations and public projects is often drawn from African-American popular culture, and is rooted in the geography of his upbringing: “You can’t be born in Birmingham, Ala., in 1955 and grow up in South Central [Los Angeles] near the Black Panthers headquarters, and not feel like you’ve got some kind of social responsibility. You can’t move to Watts in 1963 and not speak about it. That determined a lot of where my work was going to go,” said Marshall.

His work has been exhibited in group shows in the United States for more than 20 years and in international exhibitions such as “documenta X,” Kassel (1997) and the traveling exhibition  “Postcards from Black America: Contemporary African American Art,” De Beyerd, Centrum voor Beeldende Kunst, Breda, The Netherlands; Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen, Antwerp, Belgium; and Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem, The Netherlands (1998). Solo exhibitions of his work have been presented at Pepperdine University, Malibu, Calif. (1984); Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (1986); and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York (1993, 1995, 1999, 2004, 2008). In 2003, an exhibition of his work, “One True Thing: Meditations on Black Aesthetics,” organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, traveled to the Baltimore Museum of Art; Birmingham Museum of Art, Alabama; and The Studio Museum Harlem, N.Y. An exhibition of Marshall’s work, organized by The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago (1998), traveled to Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Institute for Contemporary Art, Boston; Santa Monica Museum of Art, California; and Boise Museum of Art, Idaho.

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, fiber, digital filmmaking, graphic design, illustration, interdisciplinary arts, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture and studio art with an emphasis on creative writing. The college also offers 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


For more information, contact Liz Murray, 816-802-3458 or